The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange might be in a position to secure a diplomatic safe haven after all. This comes after the front-runner in Ecuador’s presidential election, Guillermo Lasso, said he intends to evict Assange from that country’s London embassy if he wins the April 2 runoff against ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno.
Fortunately, Lasso said that he will work with other governments to find Assange a new home – where Assange will not be extradited.
Lasso said in an email exchange with Miami Herald that they will ask Mr. Assange, very politely, to leave their embassy, in absolute compliance with international conventions and protocols, adding that they’ll take all steps necessary so that another embassy will take him in and protect his rights.
It is still not yet clear as to how Assange would be transferred, even if another government were willing to provide him shelter. Assange has been holed up in the embassy for five years, during that period, Rafael Correa administration has not been in a position to figure out how to move him to Ecuador, amid the heavy police scrutiny in London.
The WikiLeaks founder took refuge in Ecuador’s cramped London embassy back in 2012 as he fought extradition to Sweden where he is wanted on sexual misconduct allegations. His legal team fear that the Swedish charges are a ploy to have him extradited to the U.S.
Lasso also highlighted Assange’s willingness to leave the embassy is Chelsea Manning, who is serving a 35-year-sentence for giving WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of secret and confidential U.S. diplomatic cables, were to be pardoned.
Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, and she will be released on the 17th of May. Assange argued that a commutation wasn’t a pardon and hunkered down at the embassy.
The connections between Assange and Ecuador goes back to 2010, when WikiLeaks published Manning’s diplomatic cables. One of them had Heather Hodges, the U.S. ambassador to Ecuador at the time talk about corruption in the Ecuadorian police force.
Consequently, Correa in 2011 declared Hodges ‘’persona non grata’’ and revoked her credentials. He offered Assange a job and residency in the small Andean nation, but it never materialized.
Back in 2012, when Assange was fighting extradition to Sweden, he took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in Knightsbridge, where he has been living with his tweeting cat and occasionally getting visits from Bay Watch Star Pamela Anderson.