Famed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 45, is rumored to have escaped the Ecuadorian embassy where he has been living the last five years to avoid extradition.
A warrant was issued for Assange in Sweden back in 2012 for an alleged sexual assault and he fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid being arrested. Since authorities cannot enter the embassy and remove him, Assange has been forced to stay in the embassy for over five years.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Note on recent press: UK gov claims that it will arrest Assange because he changed his house arrest location without permission. A max $5,000 or 3 months penalty, not valid & long spent. Assange already served more than 14x the max under UK sentencing (house arrest = 50% time).</p>— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) <a href="https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/951237875252723712?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 10, 2018</a></blockquote>
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The Metropolitan police in London have spent millions of pounds on surveillance of the embassy waiting for an opportunity to swoop in and arrest Assange if he ever stepped foot outside the embassy. A mysterious tweet by WikiLeaks Twitter account fueled speculation that he may have finally made his escape.
It is unclear if the house arrest location the tweet refers to is the Ecuadorian embassy or not, some say that since the WikiLeaks founder was out on bail when he fled to the embassy that in doing so he violated his conditions of bail by not properly informing authorities of the change of address.
Ecuador has called on the UK to allow Assange safe passage out of the country but the London police say they are still obligated to arrest him if he leaves. Although the rape charges in Sweden were dropped last year, Assange is still facing a charge of failing to surrender to a court, an offense punishable by up to a year in prison.
Assange is also responsible for overseeing the release of hundreds of classified U.S. military documents prompting concerns that the U.S. may want to take a stab at prosecuting him also if he ever leaves the embassy. Ecuadorian officials recently made a motion to the U.K. to request Assange be granted diplomatic protections but it was denied.
A Foreign & Commonwealth Office spokesperson said, "The government of Ecuador recently requested diplomatic status for Mr. Assange here in the U.K. The U.K. did not grant that request, nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter. Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice."
So far Assange's rumored escape is unverified but we will be following this story closely and report new information as it becomes available.
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