Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been living in the Ecuador Embassy in London since June 29th, 2012. Assange’s legal team is preparing for the possibility of a U.S. trial because the journalist faces extradition. The Ecuadorian government hopes to schedule Assange’s exit as soon as possible and the Australian-born writer faces a harsh penalty regarding his involvement with WikiLeaks, a forum for confidential information.
Assange first entered the Ecuador Embassy to avoid being extradited to Sweden over sexual assault and rape charges. He denies the allegations and has been hiding out since. The Ecuadorian Government has shut off Assange’s access to the internet making it nearly impossible for him to communicate with WikiLeaks employees and run his site.
A few of Assange’s lawyers issued statements regarding the U.S. extradition plans:
“The concern from day one until the present is that if Julian Assange walks out of the embassy, he will be extradited to face what the executive director of the ACLU described as an ‘unprecedented and unconstitutional’ prosecution under the US espionage act,” says lawyer Melinda Taylor.
“For us, protecting him from US extradition is absolutely paramount, and the most important and fundamental principle that must be respected. There should never be a situation where a publisher is sent to the US to face prosecution for that activity, so we will, if forced, fight his extradition in the British Courts,” says a member of Assange’s legal team.
The President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, is under pressure to expel Assange.
“Ideally, we would debate with Mr. Assange and his lawyer whether he would be willing to accept the conditions that the United Kingdom is submitting for the possibility of an exit,” says president Moreno. “If this happens, we believe there would be a sentence he would have to complete for having violated the principle of presenting himself formally before the British law.”
On the U.S. side of things, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said: “Whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail”.
Today, Assange remains in the shadows of the law.