WikiLeaks has published an urgent statement to its official social media accounts, saying the Ecuadorian embassy in London is preparing to expel Julian Assange within “hours to days,” citing two "high level" Ecuadorian sources, and that the South American country "already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest."
The statement published Thursday night grabbed headlines in US and UK press, with WikiLeaks supporters calling on crowds to gather outside the embassy in solidarity with Assange.
WikiLeaks said via Twitter, A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within "hours to days" using the INA Papers offshore scandal as a pretext — and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest.
BREAKING: A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told @WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within "hours to days" using the #INAPapers offshore scandal as a pretext--and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest.https://t.co/adnJph79wq— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 4, 2019
UK police and surveillance teams have been camped outside the embassy 24/7 ever since he first entered the building in 2012 and was given asylum there while facing extradition to Sweden on assault charges, which many believe was a classic "honey trap" scenario orchestrated by the CIA or another western intelligence agency, so that he could eventually be transferred to US detention.
Assange expulsion off the back of #INAPapers offshore corruption scandal: Ecuador's former Consul to London (2010-2018) analysis— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 2, 2019
"In short, the government seeks a false pretext to end the asylum and protection of Julian Assange."https://t.co/UQft7LAXHu
The corruption scandal WikiLeaks referenced involves WikiLeaks' reporting on papers alleging that Ecuadorian president Lenín Moreno enriched himself from an offshore account in Panama — allegations which Moreno has vehemently denied.
For his part, Moreno has ramped up pressure and scrutiny on Assange this week, saying in a radio interview that the whistleblower and journalist has egregiously and repeatedly violated the terms of his asylum.
Moreno went so far as to indirectly suggest Assange and WikiLeaks leaked personal photos of him and his family online, but without directly referencing him by name.
“Photos of my bedroom, what I eat and how my wife and daughters and friends dance [have circulated],” Moreno described, as reported by The Guardian.
“We should ensure Mr. Assange’s life is not at risk but he’s violated the agreement we have with him so many times,” Moreno said, according to the report.
WikiLeaks says Moreno is attempting to generate a "false pretext" and publicly justifiable excuse on the back of the INA Papers scandal for ending Assange's asylum on the legal technicality that "conditions" have been broken.
Assange's lawyers predicted "tripwire" expulsion plan last December https://t.co/CScgxyo5Lp— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 5, 2019
However, once off embassy grounds there's no telling what Assange would eventually face — though his immediate arrest by UK authorities for skipping his bail years ago is certain.
WikiLeaks reminded followers that Chelsea Manning is still in US custody after returning to prison a month ago: “US whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who the US government re-jailed a month ago to coerce her into a secret interrogation, as part of government efforts to prosecute WikiLeaks, was moved out of solitary after filing appeals case,” WikiLeaks stated.
And while we've heard 'days if not hours' before in terms of Assange's pending expulsion from the embassy, the combination of WikiLeaks' 'high level source' and Moreno's motive suggests it's actually happening this time.
Documenting the scene outside of the embassy is Ruptly with a livestream: