WikiLeaks' Julian Assange leaving Ecuador Embassy 'soon'

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange leaving Ecuador Embassy 'soon'

Summary: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, holed up in London for the past two years, has confirmed he will leave the sanctuary of the Ecuadorian Embassy "soon."

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Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 08.38.44
Credit: Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called for the United States to drop the "aggressive" investigation into WikiLeaks and himself, and has confirmed he intends to leave the protection of Ecuador's London-based embassy "soon."

At a press conference held Monday at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has been granted asylum for the past two years, the country's ambassador said:

"The situation must come to an end. Two years is too long. It is time to free Assange. It is time for his human rights to be respected."

On Sunday, Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino told The Guardian that the UK government holds no real interest in finding a diplomatic solution to the problem, and in addition, he believes that Assange's human rights are being violated. Patino claims that by refusing to allow Assange to leave the building in over two years -- due to the threat of arrest -- the WikiLeaks founder is being denied basic human rights and dignity.

The last time the 43-year-old stepped foot outside the small building -- where his movements are restricted to a small set of rooms -- was in June 2012. Ecuador granted political asylum based on an investigation taking place by US authorities. Reports also suggested that Assange sought political asylum after Swedish authorities moved to arrest him due to allegations of rape and sexual assault by two women, which Assange claimed on Monday were "false."

Two months after receiving shelter from the Ecuadorian Embassy and praising Ecuador's asylum bid as "courageous," Assange said at a press conference that the US-led "witch hunt" against Wikileaks must stop, and the US government must not "persecute its staff and its supporters." Assange also said journalists should be protected against "shining the light on the secret crimes of the powerful." 

This message is now being sent again, with the WikiLeaks founder claiming that the US investigation "puts all publishers and all journalists at risk."

United States officials have been investigating WikiLeaks -- which allows for the anonymous submission of whistleblower documents -- since the publication of US military and government-related documents in 2010. Assange believes that should he leave the embassy, he will also be at risk of extradition to the United States to face unknown charges related to the WikiLeaks whistleblower website.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 08.36.11
Ecuadorian embassy, London. Credit: Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

While the Ecuadorian government will continue to offer Assange protection and hold talks with both Sweden and the UK to try and break the legal standoff, Assange questioned the "four year" investigative period in which no public charges have been laid against him. The WikiLeaks founder also asked why this situation has been allowed to arise in Europe in the first place -- where a suspect is held and their movement restricted for years while the United States potentially builds up a case against them.

The UK government maintains police presence 24 hours a day outside of the embassy to prevent Assange from exiting the building, at an estimated cost to the British taxpayer of at least £7 million so far.

On Monday, Sky News reported that Assange was possibly planning to surrender following the two-year standoff with UK authorities. When questioned over this report in the press conference, the 43-year-old said, "I can confirm I am leaving the embassy soon, but perhaps not for the reasons the Murdoch press are saying."

No more details concerning this departure have yet been revealed, leaving more questions than answers. 

Reports have surfaced over the last few days which suggest that two years of entrapment within the embassy has resulted in Assange's degrading health. According to an interview with the Daily Mail, Assange is suffering from a potentially life-threatening heart condition, has a chronic lung complaint and dangerously high blood pressure.

Ecuador has asked UK officials to allow Assange safe passage outside of the embassy in a medical emergency, which has been refused, according to Patino, who said:

"The British government hasn't taken any steps in that direction. We have made proposals, we have submitted documents, and all we have seen on the part of the British government is an increase in security to make sure Julian Assange does not leave the embassy, but there has been no political will or any steps taken towards a diplomatic solution to this."

In relation to his health, Assange told reporters:

"As you can imagine, being detained in various ways in this country without charge for four years, and in this embassy for two years [..] being without an outside area or sunlight, it is an environment in which any healthy person would find themselves with certain difficulties they would have to manage."

The UK Foreign Office said last week the government remains "as committed as ever to reaching a diplomatic solution," and "we are clear that our laws must be followed and Mr Assange should be extradited to Sweden." In contrast, Ecuador has said it would prosecute the UK in an international court if it refused to grant Assange safe passage to Ecuador, something which is still being considered by the UK foreign office.

Topics: Government UK, Government US, Legal, Privacy

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39 comments
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  • Good

    Two raped girls in Sweden are wondering why they can have no justice!

    Everybody is talking about Asasnges rights, and totally ignore the tragedy lying behind all this.
    brhorv
    • oh you mean...

      the totally made up rape charged filed by paid actors?
      yeah they must be wondering.
      Naryan
      • Source?

        “totally made up rape charged filed by paid actors”
        daikon
        • Detained by whom?

          "being detained in various ways in this country without charge for four years"

          As implied by other posts, nobody has detained him except himself. And he has been charged in Sweden, if I am not mistaken.

          As regards the rape claims, they are not clearcut, and at least one of the women had consensual sex with Assange and only later decided she did not like it.
          Here is one source:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assange_v_Swedish_Prosecution_Authority

          You can Google for more. I clearly remember this issues when they arose.

          However, it is not for the British Govt (or English courts) to try the case (no case has been brought in the UK). A valid arrest warrant has been received from Sweden, a democratic state based on the rule of law when I last looked, and so the UK has to extradite him if it can lay his hands on him.

          What puzzles me is how he is going to leave the Ecuadorian embassy without being arrested (whether to "slither off" to the Russian embassy or not - and the Russian embassy is nowhere near the Ecuadorian one). By helicopter? Whose? An Ecuadorian one? And, if so, will the RAF force a landing?

          Regarding his fear of ultimate extradition to the USA, he may have grounds for it, even if the US has not yet said anything.
          DAS01
        • The usual syllogism is...

          1. It is impossible for good guys to do wrong.
          2. Julian Assange is a good guy.
          3. Julian Assange has been accused of doing wrong.
          4. Therefore the accusation must be false.

          There are all manner of variations on this, but they all amount to the logic shown above.
          John L. Ries
    • Looks Fishy

      If he were really guilty, why doesn't Sweden charge him with a crime and issue a warrant for his arrest? This can all be done in his absence. The Swedes say they only want to question him, but why not question him in the UK? He's offered to do that. No, this is a pretext to get him on Swedish soil, so they can extradite him the US. Just watch. Once they question him, they'll find there's no case, but "oh while you're here..."
      technojoe
      • "if he were really guilty, why doesn't Sweden charge him ... "

        Well duh, because he scuttled into the embassy of the well-known protector of human rights, Ecuador, before they could.

        As you well know, being as you are an expert, Swedish law requires certain precedures (to protect the innocent) BEFORE charges can be laid. The coward didn't wait for that.

        Mind you, it would make me laugh out loud - or even roll on the floor laughing - if the coward hides for another five years, then comes out, allows the investigation, and is cleared of all charges. Wouldn't that be a nice reward for cowardice?

        He chose to run; his consequences, my entertainment.
        Heenan73
    • "Raped" and looking to be raped again

      The girls were very happy with Assange after having intercourse with him, they were even trying to have another session with him. The think blew up, when he did not return phone calls to one of them and the two figured out that the lucky bastard had sex with both of them. Of course to have sex with a feminist in a country where the sex laws are so twisted The girls were very happy with Assange after having intercourse with him, they were even trying to have another session with him. The thing blew up, when he did not return phone calls to one of them and the two figured out that the lucky bastard had sex with both of them. Of course to have sex with a feminist in a country where the sex laws are so twisted and detrimental to men, was not a good idea, but of course he was not thinking with the big head.
      Also to have sex with a girl who published a blog about how to manipulate the law to have Revenge for being dumped, was obviously a big red NO, NO, but again he did not take the best choice.
      Every one know this is a case brought by Ultra Feminists, very angry by being dumped, but again this is Sweden, and instead of fix things by allowing interrogation by Tele conference they want to give them to the False accusers some spotlight and the Attorney, also a Feminist, really want to have Assange humiliated.
      Martin Cab
    • US Justice SOP

      Just US Standard operating procedure. As like when the CIA kidnapped Canadian Ambassador John Watkins in 1956 under the pretense of homosexuality then murdered him when he wouldn't cooperate. It's a knee jerk propaganda, accuse of some sex crime warranted or not
      They have done it so many times its impossible to believe them. In this case the CIA knew they couldn't charge a Canadian Ambassador of Unamerican activity. Concerned that he was getting to close to communist Russia. Unable to vilify him with homosexual label murdered him. Same with Asasnge, broken record over and over.
      csumbler
      • You really shouldn't assume such things are common knowledge

        I had never heard the story and am therefore suspicious. Care to post links so that others can evaluate the claims and the evidence?
        John L. Ries
        • And even if the claim is true...

          ...it has nothing whatever to do with Mr. Assange's guilt or innocence. As noted previously, if the US government wanted to request his extradition and thought it had the legal grounds to do so, it wouldn't have bothered to engineer his extradition to Sweden; it would have been much easier to send the request directly to the UK Foreign Office.
          John L. Ries
          • Or if the administration were totally unscrupulous...

            ...the most expeditious way to proceed would have been for the CIA to arrange for his sudden disappearance.
            John L. Ries
        • Look it up

          That's is exactly why I made sure to give his name and date. Google it you should have no problem finding historical information to back up my comments.
          If it was a mere assumption of common knowledge it would have been a simple matter to say some Canadian Ambassador from the '50's when McCarthyism was all the rage. You will find the primary reason the CIA was after him. US was trying to sell a telephone system to the Russians to operate in Siberia, The US system allowed easy listening in aka NSA. It however had a flaw in that it became unstable at temperatures below freezing. Where as in Canada they already had system built be Northern Telecom that worked just fine in the Canadian North in climate not dissimilar to Siberia. Rusians were invited over to shown the system later bought it. That and the "Russian Wheat deals" also brought about by Dr. John Watkins. This pissed off the CIA
          http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/john-bc-watkins/
          This is just an extract more details in the reference book
          csumbler
  • Mr Assange is a free man.

    He chose to enter the Ecuadorian embassy - and he chose to censor wikileaks publications with regard to Ecuador. He can choose to leave the embassy at any time.

    "WikiLeaks founder claiming that the US investigation "puts all publishers and all journalists at risk." - unlike Ecuador, of course, which doesn't bother to investigate; it kills or 'disappears' them.

    If the Ecuadorians are getting sick of Assange, I'm sure he'd find new best friends at the Russian Embassy - that nice Mr Putin likes western journalists, too.
    Heenan73
    • Or he could do what that clown Snowden has done!

      Go and hide in the totally free country like Russia!
      I'm sure he'll have complete freedom of speech over there!
      martin_js
  • Entrapment?

    he choose to enter the embassy. The USA has not charged him with anything so the idea that if he goes to Sweden they will send him to the USA is laughable. If he was going to be extradited, the Brits would have done it before he entered the embassy. My guess is Assange the narcissist, wants his 15 minutes of fame to continue.
    Low_tech
    • "If he was going to be extradited, the Brits would have done it ... "

      Get your facts straight! The whole reason he did a runner into the embassy of those nice free-speech loving Ecuadorians, was that he was about to be extradited.

      "The Brits" would have loved to do it sooner (and save taxpayers money), but Mr Assange spent all wikileaks' money in appeals.
      Heenan73
      • Not to the USA

        he MAY have been extradited to Sweden. The USA had the investigation going on for a while before he decided Ecuador would be his savior. The Brits could have scooped him up anytime and sent him to the USA. His whole schtick is that he will be sent to the USA to a "unknown fate".
        Low_tech
    • The Brits would have done it before he entered the embassy?

      "The UK government maintains police presence 24 hours a day outside of the embassy to prevent Assange from exiting the building, at an estimated cost to the British taxpayer of at least £7 million so far." Why would they spend 7 million pounds on a 24 hour police guard if they weren't planning on arresting him if he set foot outside the embassy? If the British government arrested him, he would be immediately extradited to the US, as long as the US government agrees not to seek the death penalty against him, the usual requirement that all civilized governments impose on the US when they extradite.
      JDMArkansas
      • Of course they'll arrest him!

        And he'll go to Sweden who have got extradition agreed, despite Assange's spending wikileaks money to fight it.

        The US has not even requested extradition.

        So do try to keep up, pullease.
        Heenan73