Ecuador's Moreno says Wikileaks' Assange can leave embassy if he wants

08 December, 2018, 22:48 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Julian Assange

Then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April 2017 that arresting Assange was a "priority". Assange said he feared the charges might be used to extradite him to the United States, where he is accused of divulging sensitive USA intelligence through the WikiLeaks website.

Assange's lawyer in Ecuador, Carlos Poveda, has told Sputnik that his client was ready to surrender to the UK authorities after receiving written guarantees from London that he would not be extradited to the United States or any other country.

Moreno didn't say he would force Assange out, but said the Wikileaks founder's legal team is considering its next steps.

"The British government has told us that the constitution of Great Britain bars extradition of a person to a place where his life is in danger or he faces the death penalty", Moreno said in a radio interview. Assange has published troves of sensitive material, going back to military documents obtained by Chelsea Manning in 2010. Reports in May indicated that Assange might be in jeopardy of losing asylum.

Those fears were heightened when U.S prosecutors last month mistakenly referenced criminal charges against him in an unrelated case.

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"If the British government guarantees his life, I think it's in his best interest to hand himself over to the authorities", CNN quoted Moreno as saying. This comes as special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the alleged links between US President Donald Trump's associates and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

In recent months, Ecuador has clamped down on Assange and his behavior, cutting off his Internet access in March 2018 after making political statements that Ecuador said violated his agreement for sanctuary. He faces charges of espionage, conspiracy, theft of government property, and computer fraud in the United States, and Donald Trump's administration has stated that the Wikileaks founder's arrest is a top priority.

Assange entered the embassy after two years of battling an extradition to Sweden to be questioned by prosecutors, who were considering whether charges should be brought against Assange for sexual assault. "We will protect Assange's rights".

Assange has remained in Ecuador's embassy in London for fear that he will be extradited to countries where he is wanted or that he will be arrested in the United Kingdom for the criminal offence of breaching his bail conditions.

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