Ecuador and the U.K. have resumed discussions about the status of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who has resided at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012.
BBC News reported Friday that leaders of the two countries are discussing Assange’s fate. Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, however, made it clear that he never condoned Assange’s activities and that Assange has been a “stone in our shoe.” The two countries previously attempted to negotiate Assange’s potential release in February, but British officials were unwilling to cooperate, according to Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa.
Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks, a website “specializ[ing] in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption.” Assange came under fire after he published thousands of emails from former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and released a U.S. military manual on Guantanamo prison. He also released emails from then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
He was named Time Magazine “Person of the Year” in 2010.
The Ecuadorean government protects Assange from British arrest but only on Ecuadorean territory, meaning that he can’t attempt to board an airplane or train without risking arrest. Leaving would constitute a violation of the terms of his conditional bail, placed upon him after the Swedish police began investigating Assange for sexual molestation, coercion and rape in August 2010.
Sweden dropped its rape investigation in May 2017, but Assange is still vulnerable to extradition to the U.S. for publishing U.S. military secrets.
Talks between the governments have resumed after the Ecuadorian government cut Assange’s internet access in March, claiming that his actions endanger “the good relations that the country maintains with the United Kingdom, with the rest of the states of the European Union, and other nations.” (RELATED: REPORT: Julian Assange’s Six-Year Refuge At An Embassy Might Be Ending Soon)
The U.K. has been vocal that Assange should leave the embassy and face the consequences his actions have produced. “It’s about time that this miserable little worm walked out of the embassy and gave himself up to British justice,” U.K. Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan said in March.
He changed his tune slightly in June however, saying that “the first priority would be to look after his health, which we think is deteriorating,” BBC reported.
Doctors who examined Assange determined that “his continued confinement is dangerous physically and mentally to him,” The Guardian reported in January.
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