Ecuador is preparing to place WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in British custody in the “coming weeks or even days,” says a top Russian journalist.
RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan on Wednesday tweeted her sources revealed Assange “would be handed over to the #UK in the coming weeks or even days,” and according to WikiLeaks, added that she wishes the explosive claims were inaccurate.
Мои источники говорят, что Ассанжа в ближайшие недели или даже дни сдадут Британии. Как никогда мне хочется, чтобы мои источники ошибались.
— Маргарита Симоньян (@M_Simonyan) July 19, 2018
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 20, 2018
WikiLeaks’ founder is facing the possibility of being evicted from Ecuador’s London embassy, as previously reported. Ecuadoran and British officials are locked in “high-level negotiations that will decide the fate of the Australian hacker, who has been residing in the London embassy for over six years.
The Times UK reported last week:
Ministers and senior Foreign Office officials are locked in discussions over the fate of Assange, the founder and editor of WikiLeaks, who claimed political asylum from Ecuador in 2012 and who believes he will be extradited to the United States if he leaves the embassy in Knightsbridge, central London.
Sir Alan Duncan, the Foreign Office minister, is understood to be involved in the diplomatic effort, which comes weeks before a visit to the UK by Lenin Moreno, the new Ecuadorean president, who has called Assange a “hacker”, an “inherited problem” and a “stone in the shoe”.
In August 2012, Ecuador’s left-wing president, Rafael Correa, granted asylum to the Australian hacker after the Swedish government accused the WikiLeaks boss of committing sex crimes during a 2010 visit to Stockholm. Assange has repeatedly made public statements blaming the Obama administration for ginning up the allegations in an attempt to discredit him.
In a highly publicized speech to the media from the balcony’s Ecuador London embassy in 2012, Assange urged U.S. authorities to suspend its probe into WikiLeaks. “I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks,” Assange said. “The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters.”
The Ecuadorian government in March disconnected Assange’s internet and banned him from welcoming visitors.
Ecuadorian officials issued a statement on the crackdown, accusing the WikiLeaks founder of reneging on “a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages that might interfere with other states.” Ecuador further alleged the social media habits of the WikiLeaks founder “put at risk the good relations [Ecuador] maintains with the United Kingdom, with the other states of the European Union, and with other nations.”
— Comunicación Ecuador (@ComunicacionEc) March 28, 2018
Reports of Assange’s possible eviction follow the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses during the 2016 election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced early this month that the Kremlin-linked hackers infiltrated the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. As part of the cyber attack, emails of Clinton campaign staffers were published by WikiLeaks in the months leading up to Donald Trump winning the White House.