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Jun 19, 2018: WikiLeaks founder marks six years at Ecuadorian embassy with new headache

UNITED KINGDOM - Wikileaks founder Julian Assange marks the sixth anniversary of his enforced sojourn at the Ecuador Embassy in London as a wanted man and facing a new headache from across the Atlantic.

The United States government wants him for posting almost half a million politically-sensitive documents in 2010 that relate mainly to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the same year, WikiLeaks began publishing an estimated 250,000 confidential U.S. diplomatic cables, some of which covered behind-the-scenes efforts to isolate Iran politically and economically. He has published a number of other scoops over the years, including details about the U.S. military’s detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. Some American politicians have called for him to be pursued as a terrorist.

His new headache comes from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the United States, which is suing Wikileaks, the Russian government and the Donald Trump election campaign for interference in the 2016 presidential election. The suit announced Apr 20 accuses them of a wide-ranging conspiracy to interfere in the election with the object of defeating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In Jan 2017, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, a declassified U.S. intelligence report stated that Assange and WikiLeaks had been key parts of a sophisticated hybrid warfare campaign orchestrated by Russia against the United States.

Ecuador granted political asylum to Assange in 2012 after he exhausted appeals under the British legal system to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges. He feared that once in Sweden, he would be extradited to the United States. His only recent break has come from Sweden, which is no longer pursuing him to answer the charges.

Recent news suggests Ecuador has come to regret the move to take him in. The country furnished him with citizenship in hopes of clearing his exit path out of the embassy. It hasn’t worked: British authorities insist he will be arrested if he sets foot outside the building. If taken into custody in Britain, he faces the near certainty of extradition to the United States.

#22597 Published: 04/23/2018

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