In June 2012, Julian Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Since then, the man has not moved an inch. Indeed, Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks which aims to ensure a global transparence regarding social, political or military issues. This organization became a real troublemaker when, in 2010, it released hundreds of American military and diplomatic documents about the Afghanistan war and the Irak war.
This event triggered a wave of outrage in America where Assange has been examined closely. Meanwhile, Sweden charged Assange with sexual assault on two women in 2010. London followed suit and recognized the European arrest warrant issued against Assange.
Nonetheless, Assange found shelter in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012. For fear of being extradited to the US, the man favoured staying in the embassy rather than flying to Sweden where justice asked him to be heard.
After almost six years spent in the building, the issue resurfaces: should Ecuador put an end to this warm welcome? The country recently changed President, Correa was replaced by Lenin Moreno who advocates to build stronger relationships with Europe and the US. As a result, Ecuador appears to be urged to work out a solution and to make a firm decision while Attorney Jeff Sessions struggles to have reasonable grounds to press charges.
Structure de l’article:
- Twelve years ago, in June 2012, the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange took shelter in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
- However, the Ecuadorean is no longer willing to warmly accommodate this host.
- Charged with sexual assault in Sweden, Assange decided to reach safety in this embassy after British authorities considered the European arrest warrant issued against him was valid. Since then, the rape case was dropped.
- Ecuador granted Assange citizenship and attempted to hire him as part of the diplomatic staff in London so that Assange could calmly walk out of the embassy. However, this attempt was hindered by Britain’s refusal.
- In order to get by this catch-22 situation, Ecuador demanded the involvement of a third-party country to work out a solution.
- Not only did Ecuador get into a mess by its own fault but it was Rafael Correa who seized the opportunity to turn this whole scheme into a tool to show the world Ecuador could compete with the US.
- The relationship between Assange and Ecuador has kept on becoming strained. Indeed, the country has even resolved to cut Assange’s access to the internet after emails were published in Wikileaks.
- Another key factor is that Ecuador has changed president: Lenin Moreno, Correa’s successor, claims to be willing to have friendlier relationships with Europe and the US. And although one of the rules for his staying was to remain silent, Assange took the liberty to comment on the topic of Catalonia.
- If the Ecuadorean government deemed necessary to push Assange out of the embassy, he would be bound to be judged first for his skipping bail in Britain, then perhaps in the US if Attorney Jeff Sessions manages to charge him.
- If Lenin Moreno wishes to keep his campaign promises, the right move would be to let Assange face justice, not to allow him to hole up in their embassy forever.
Ecuador is bound to make a decision: either keep or get rid of Assange in its embassy. It has now become a real matter for the newly elected President which may determine the future relationship with the United States. This display of force between both countries could result in a real diplomatic crisis because of a single man. Case to follow…
Wikileaks is a non-profit organization which uses its website to publish governmental, corporate or religious documents that had previously been secret. In 2012, WikiLeaks published documents about Syria files and US detainee policies.
What to do with the Guest That Wouldn’t Leave? We’ve all been there. That’s where Ecuador finds itself now, stuck with a five-year lodger who’s worn out his welcome.
The Ecuadorean government wants to rid itself of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who’s been living in asylum in a tiny room in the South American nation’s embassy in London since June 2012.
He remains wanted by Britain on charges of jumping bail after Sweden charged him with sexual assault and faces possible extradition to the U.S. because of his role in disseminating classified State Department documents. He sought refuge at the embassy after British authorities granted Sweden’s extradition request. Last May Sweden dropped the rape case, saying it saw no chance of getting Assange to leave the embassy.
The Ecuadorean government recently granted Assange citizenship and tried to put him on its diplomatic staff in London. Diplomatic status would have given the 46-year-old hacktivist-on-the-run immunity from prosecution, and Ecuador surmised he could walk out into the embassy’s posh Knightsbridge neighborhood without fear of arrest. But Britain has rejected Ecuador’s request to grant Assange diplomatic status.
Now Ecuador is trying to get a third-party country to mediate a solution that gets Assange out of the embassy. The country’s foreign minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, called his continued asylum at the embassy “unsustainable.”
Ecuador only has itself to blame for this mess. The country’s previous leader, Rafael Correa, tried to paint Assange as a victim of political persecution. In reality, Correa, a leftist ally of the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, saw Assange as an opportunity to show the world he could stand up to the U.S.
Since then, Ecuador has grown increasingly frustrated with Assange’s antics. The embassy cut off his access to the internet in October 2016, after WikiLeaks published emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee that had been pilfered by Russian hackers. The U.S. has accused Russia’s intelligence community of being behind the hacking, and has said it was part of a Kremlin scheme to help get Donald Trump elected.
Correa has been replaced by a new leader, Lenin Moreno, who wants stronger trade ties with Europe and the U.S. Late last year, Assange made remarks on social media that appeared to sympathize with the separatist movement in Spain’s Catalonia region. Moreno reminded Assange that his stay at the embassy is conditioned on keeping his mouth shut about international politics. “We have asked him not to talk about the topic of Catalonia,” Moreno recently told a Spanish newspaper. “If he does, we will know to respond.”
There’s a better, easier way for Ecuador to deal with Assange. Open the embassy door, and give him a nice nudge out into the arms of British authorities. He skipped bail in Britain, and that’s a crime. It’s not known yet whether the U.S. will be able to build a case against Assange, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made arresting him a priority. If the U.S. lodges charges, he should face justice here as well.
Ecuador says it wants stronger relations with the U.S. and the rest of the Western world. The wrong way to get there is by crafting an Assange exit from the embassy that shields him from facing justice. The time has come for Assange to leave Ecuador’s embrace, and step into a courtroom.