It appears President Correa’s “intention to safeguard [Assange’s] life and physical integrity until he reaches a safe place,” is under threat as The Miami Herald reports that Guillermo Lasso, the front-runner in Ecuador’s presidential election, says he intends to evict Assange from that country’s London embassy if he wins the April 2 runoff against ruling party candidate Lenín Moreno.
“We will ask Mr. Assange, very politely, to leave our embassy, in absolute compliance with international conventions and protocols,” Lasso said in an email exchange with the Miami Herald.
Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s cramped London embassy in 2012 fighting extradition to Sweden where he is wanted on sexual misconduct allegations. Assange and his legal team fear that the Swedish charges are a ploy to have him extradited to the United States.
Lasso also noted that Assange had volunteered to leave the embassy if Chelsea Manning, who is serving a 35-year-sentence for giving WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of secret and confidential U.S. diplomatic cables, were to be pardoned. On his way out of office, President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, and she will be released May 17. But Assange argued that a commutation wasn’t a pardon and hunkered down at the embassy.
The ruling party’s Moreno has said he would continue Correa’s policy of letting Assange stay at the embassy.
As a reminder, in October 2016, Ecuador cut Assange’s internet access due to his publication of a “wealth of documents impacting the U.S. election.” Despite what seems to be the Ecuadorian government caving to political pressure from the Obama administration, the statement takes special caution to reassure everyone that the decision was in response to “sovereign decisions alone” and that Ecuador “does not yield to pressure from other states”….sure, though we do wonder how many drafts John Kerry’s staffers went through at the State Department before finally approving these comments for dissemination.
Here are some key excerpts from the Ecuadorian statement:
“In recent weeks, WikiLeaks has published a wealth of documents, impacting on the U.S. election campaign. This decision was taken exclusively by that organization.”
“The Government of Ecuador respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. It does not interfere in external electoral processes, nor does it favor any particular candidate.”
“Accordingly, Ecuador has exercised its sovereign right to temporarily restrict access to some of its private communications network within its Embassy in the United Kingdom. This temporary restriction does not prevent the WikiLeaks organization from carrying out it journalistic activities.”
“Ecuador, in accordance with its tradition of defending human rights and protecting victims for political persecution, reaffirms the asylum granted to Julian Assange and reiterates its intention to safeguard his life and physical integrity until he reaches a safe place.”
“Ecuador’s foreign policy responds to sovereign decisions alone and does not yield to pressure from other states.”
Probably just a coincidence? Is the deep state still pulling the strings? One wonders just what Wikileaks may have up its sleeve next… especially as the Obama links to Trump White House leaks and Trump Tower surveillance grow stronger.
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