After nearly six years, Ecuador may have had it with Julian Assange. CNN and other news organizations report that while there have been threats to boot the WikiLeaks founder from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London before, his current situation is “unusually bad” and he could be forced out “any day now.”
Ecuador’s new president Lenín Moreno is reportedly facing increasing pressure from the U.S. to eject Assange. Spain may have also weighed in after Assange tweeted his support for the separatist movements in Catalonia. The embassy recently cut off Assange’s internet access and blocked him from meeting with anyone but his lawyers.
If Assange leaves the embassy he could face charges from three different countries. Though Sweden recently stopped investigating the rape allegation that led to Assange hiding away in the embassy, the probe could be revived if he leaves. Since he refused to surrender for extradition to Sweden, he’s also facing charges for breaching bail in the U.K.
While President Trump has publicly declared his love for WikiLeaks, last month there were reports that federal prosecutors are preparing charges against Assange. The Obama administration held off on charging Assange because it was unclear how they could charge him for publishing government secrets but not mainstream news outlets. But they may have found a way around that, since Chelsea Manning admitted that Assange helped her figure out how to anonymously gain access to government systems. (That charge could have consequences for journalists too, but the Trump administration generally seems less concerned about that.)
U.S. intelligence agencies also concluded that Russian intelligence used WikiLeaks to publish stolen emails meant to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and on Thursday the Wall Street Journal reported that former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone sought access to those emails in September 2016 through an acquaintance who knows Assange. So Assange’s relationship with the U.S. government may be about to get even more complicated.
Credit: New York magazine, http://nymag.com