WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been sheltered in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for five years, may be thrown out of his asylum after pushing Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno over the edge.
Assange has been holed up in the diplomatic building in London’s wealthy Knightsbridge neighborhood since 2012, when he was granted political asylum by Ecuador following sex assault allegations in Sweden, which he has consistently denied.
Although the case against him was later dropped, the Australian remained inside the embassy over fears he’d be extradited to the US in connection with WikiLeaks’ release of 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But now Assange has apparently drawn the wrath of the South American country’s president, and Ecuador is seeking out a third country or individual to mediate his safe passage from its embassy in the United Kingdom.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa told teleSUR on Thursday that the country was considering settling the matter through third-party negotiators, describing Assange’s current living arrangements as “untenable.”
“No solution will be achieved without international cooperation and the cooperation of the United Kingdom, which has also shown interest in seeking a way out,” the foreign minister reportedly said.
Ecuador’s decision could have been influenced by Assange’s criticism of Moreno’s overseas allies and his support of the Catalan independence movement on social media.
Moreno had previously called on the WikiLeaks founder to “respect the situation he is in,” avoid “intervening in the politics” of countries friendly to Ecuador and making controversial and inflammatory political statements.
“We have reminded Mr. Assange that he has no reason to interfere in Ecuadorian politics because his status does not allow it,” the president said in an interview with El Pais. “Nor in that of nations that are our friends. He does not have the right to do so and he has committed himself to this.”
But the outspoken Australian hit back on Twitter in September 2017, saying, “if President Moreno wants to gag my reporting of human rights abuses in Spain he should say so explicitly — together with the legal basis.”