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UK has provided ‘guarantees’ Assange won’t be extradited to face death penalty – Ecuador’s president

Posted on Thursday, 6th December 2018 @ 05:45 PM by Text Size A | A | A

Britain has provided enough guarantees that Julian Assange will not be extradited to any country where he would face the death penalty if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London, according to Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno.

Speaking during a radio interview on Thursday, Moreno said his administration has received written assurances that the UK will not extradite Assange to any nation where he will face the death penalty.

That has long been a concern for Assange and those advocating for him, as he could potentially face the death penalty if extradited to the US for his leak of a huge trove of diplomatic cables in 2010. He faces charges of espionage, conspiracy, theft of government property, and computer fraud in the US, and Donald Trump’s administration has stated that the Wikileaks founder’s arrest is a top priority.

Moreno didn’t say that his country would force Assange out of the embassy, but said the Wikileaks founder’s legal team is considering its next steps.

“There is a path for Mr. Assange to take the decision to exit into near freedom,” Moreno said in the local radio interview, while noting that the whistleblower still faces jail time in the UK for violating bail terms when he sought asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning in a sexual assault investigation. 

However, the UK has reportedly told Ecuador that his jail time for skipping bail would not exceed six months.

Assange and the Ecuadorian embassy, which the 47-year-old has called home since 2012, have experienced tensions in recent months, with Ecuador cutting off Assange’s communications in March, after he discussed topics online that could have damaged the country’s diplomatic relations. Those included tensions between London and Moscow and Catalonian separatism.

Ecuador also issues a nine-page memo which informed Assange that he must refrain from making political statements and clean the bathroom in the embassy. He was told that his cat would be confiscated if he didn’t take better care of its “well-being, food, and hygiene.”

Assange responded by suing Ecuador, accusing it of violating his “fundamental rights and freedoms.”

Addressing Assange’s residency in the embassy, Moreno said: “I do not like the presence of Mr. Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy, but we have been respectful of his human rights and with that respect in mind we think that six years is too long for someone to remain nearly incarcerated in an embassy.”

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The accidental revelation in mid-November that U.S. federal prosecutors had secretly filed charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange underlines the determination of the Trump administration to end Assange’s asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been staying since 2012.

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