Julian Assange may be at the end of the line in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, as the WikiLeaks founder may be evicted "any day now," according to CNN, citing sources familiar with the matter.
While Assange has in the past claimed his position in the embassy was under threat, sources say his current situation is "unusually bad" and that he could leave the embassy "any day now," either because he will be forced out or made to feel so restricted that he might choose to leave on his own. His position there is "in jeopardy," one source familiar with the matter said. -CNN
After losing a March bid to have a UK arrest warrant for skipping bail in a now-abandoned rape case in Sweden, and amid reports that the U.S. has prepared criminal charges in relation to WikiLeaks' release of Hillary Clinton's hacked (or leaked) emails during the 2016 U.S. election - Assange would face immediate arrest by UK authorities the moment he sets foot outside the embassy he's called home for the past six years.
In the US, Assange's fate is even more uncertain. Assange's lawyers claim that US officials have maintained a secret grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks for nearly eight years. -CNN
"For the last eight years, the UK has refused to either confirm or deny that they have received an extradition request from the US. At the same time, they have refused to provide assurances that Julian will not be extradited to the US if such a request were to be received, and maintained an ever-present vigil of the Embassy, notwithstanding a UN directive to take steps to ensure Julian's immediate liberty," Assange's lawyer Melinda Taylor told CNN. "Their silence speaks volumes, particularly in light of recent statements from US officials that Julian's arrest and extradition are a priority."
"The concern from day one until the present is that if Julian Assange walks out of the Embassy, he will be extradited to face what the executive director of the ACLU described as an 'unprecedented and unconstitutional' prosecution under the US Espionage Act," Taylor told CNN.
In December, Assange received Ecuadorian citizenship, but the UK indicated it would not recognize his diplomatic status if requested by the Latin American nation, denying Assange the diplomatic immunity that would've allowed him to leave.
The UN, meanwhile, has twice ruled that Assange's detention is unlawful. Despite this, the judge in his most recent appeal - Emma Arbuthnot, who said “I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years."
Judge Arbuthnot's impartiality in the Assange matter has been called into question, while her husband and ex-Conservative MP, Baron James Arbuthnot, is listed as the director of a security company along with the former head of MI6. Not exactly friends of WikiLeaks.
Meanwhile, Ecuador's new president, Lenín Moreno, recently pulled funding for security and surveillance countermeasures - and in January called Assange an "inherited problem" that has created "more than a nuisance" for his government. Assange has had his internet access cut in March, and has since lost telephone and visitor privileges aside from his attorneys.
In addition to pressure from the U.S. and U.K., Spain is said to have been exerting pressure on Ecuador after Assange's support for the separatist independence movements in Catalonia in northeast Spain.
And in an April article from Disobedient Media, it appears as though a U.S. military deal with Ecuador may be behind recent talk of pushing Assange out of the embassy.
The news of Ecuador’s decision is not only disastrous for WikiLeaks’ Editor-In-Chief, but also to those concerned that an increased US military presence in Ecuador will lead to an uptick in violence there. -Disobedient Media
Timing is everything, as WSWS reports:
On April 3, less than a week after cutting Assange’s Internet, Moreno announced a sweeping austerity plan to slash social spending and facilitate payments to the country’s Wall Street creditors. Citing the deal approvingly, the ratings agency Fitch cited “a 42 percent rise in interest expense” and a “sharply rising debt burden” that “reached 46 percent of GDP in 2017, up from 29.6 percent in 2014.”
On April 4, Spain’s El Pais wrote that Moreno “wants to implement austerity in his new economic program” which “the Moreno government reached through an agreement with analysts and the private sector.”
Fitch noted that “if implemented well,” Moreno’s austerity plan means “there is potential for the reforms to result in fiscal adjustment over the long term,” i.e., more favorable conditions for American and European corporations to exploit the country’s resources and cheap labor.
On March 26, eight days before announcing the austerity plan and two days before cutting Assange’s Internet, the Moreno government met with two leading representatives of US Southern Command, the section of the Pentagon responsible for the military’s activity in Latin America. Before the meeting, the US Embassy stated Lt. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo and Ambassador Liliana Ayalde met with “defense authorities and civil authorities” to “reiterate Southern Command’s commitment to boost and strengthen the friendship between the two countries.”
So - in a nutshell, Ecuador elected a new President who is working with the U.S. military-banking complex in order to shore up their debt, beef up their military and ostensibly in exchange, may be handing Assange over to the West within days.
Article 79 of the Ecuadorian Constitution bans the extradition of citizens: "In no case shall extradition of an Ecuadorian be granted."— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 25, 2018
Article 41 bans asylees from being returned: "The State shall respect and guarantee the principle of non-return." https://t.co/AIxEWlSncx