Wikileaks founder Julian Assange hasn’t been in the news quite as much lately, mostly due to the fact that he’s been stuck in a self-imposed prison, seeking refuge from the long arm of the law in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for more than five years now. But just this week, as Ed reported yesterday, there seemed to be new hope for Assange. The hot rumor was that Ecuador may have granted him citizenship and could, in theory, offer him diplomatic immunity so he could simply board a plane and fly to his new home.
So I suppose he should start packing and prepare to finally breathe some fresh air, eh? Well… not so fast. In order for Assange to be granted protected status as a diplomat of the Ecuadorean government, the Brits would have to accept his credentials. And it turns out that they’ve passed on that idea so Julian is back to square one. (Gizmodo)
The government of the U.K. has denied a motion to grant Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 over fears he could be extradited, diplomatic protections.
Per the Guardian, Ecuadorian officials made the request in hopes that if Assange was certified as one of their diplomats—reports indicate he already has Ecuadorian citizenship—he could finally leave the embassy without fear of being arrested for violating U.K. bail conditions by fleeing there in the first place. While Swedish prosecutors dropped extradition requests related to sex crime allegations in May 2017, Assange fears that if British police detain him, U.S. prosecutors will immediately issue an extradition request over Wikileaks’ decision to publish troves of secret U.S. military documents.
Ecuador remains willing to shield Assange from any possible extradition for the immediate future but has no way of extracting him without London police interference, hence the impasse.
As Ed said, “they could have flown him to Ecuador under diplomatic cover at any time, at least in theory. ” Yes, that was the theory. But it relied on the Brits going along with the plan. Normally, the acceptance of credentials is mostly a formality and the host country doesn’t rattle the bars of the visitors overly much. But these are hardly normal circumstances.
So unless the Brits have a change of heart, Julian Assange is basically stuck in that embassy until one of two things happens. Either he resigns himself to his fate and surrenders to British authorities to face trial or Ecuador finally grows tired of having this albatross around their neck and tosses him out. Of course, the other option is that Assange simply stays there until he dies.
But how long can he last? I know that question may sound a bit silly now, particularly when I was questioning how long Assange could maintain his sanity in his tiny quarters back in 2013. This is going on six years now. How long could you stay on house arrest and never leave your domicile before you began to completely lose it? Frankly, I think I’d have gone stark raving mad long before now.
Exit question: Is there one other option available which we’re not considering? Supposedly, Assange isn’t really worried about what the Brits will do to him as the charges in England aren’t all that serious. He claims that he’s afraid to leave because his main concern is being extradited to the United States and possibly winding up in Gitmo. If Donald Trump agreed to not extradite him, he should be able to walk out and go deal with the British courts, right? But would Trump even consider it? He’s claimed in the past to be a big Wikileaks fan. But he also sticks to his reputation of being tough on crime. I wonder if anyone has asked him yet?