Whistleblower may be kicked out of Ecuador Embassy
Julian Assange may be kicked out of the Ecuadorian Embassy if Guillermo Lasso wins the presidential election
WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange’s future hangs in the balance more than ever this weekend as the presidential elections take place in Ecuador and candidate Guillermo Lasso holds a dim view of the whistleblower’s refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Banking baron Lasso is currently head-to-head with Vice President Lenin Moreno and has vowed to end Assange’s extended stay should he win the presidential race.
Ecuador has been protecting Mr. Assange in its London embassy since 2012 by offering him asylum, but should he be forced to leave, he will be returned to British soil where he will then surely be extradited to the United Stated on espionage charges.
The Express reports: The conservative pro-business candidate is keen to push Mr. Assange out of his safe haven after he said last month that the embassy “isn’t a hotel” and that Ecuador is in no position to finance the Australian’s food and care.
Mr. Lasso, the majority shareholder in Ecuador’s largest bank, Banco de Guayaquil, said protecting Mr. Assange is “an unsustainable situation”. If he wins Sunday’s final election vote Mr. Lasso said he would give Mr. Assange 30 days to leave the embassy after he takes up the presidency.
He said: “The Ecuadorian people are paying costs that it should not have to.”Computer genius Mr. Assange would most likely be arrested and deported to Sweden as soon as he steps outside the embassy in Knightsbridge as he is wanted for questioning over the allegation of “lesser degree rape” in Sweden.
Bruce Bagley, professor of international relations at the University of Miami, said: “If Lasso wins, Assange would be wandering the streets of London and be extremely vulnerable.
”Mr. Lasso’s running opponent, leftist Mr. Moreno, has always shown strong support for the WikiLeaks boss’ asylum – something Mr. Lasso believes will help score him votes as the country suffers through its second year of negative or flat economic growth.
Mr. Moreno won the first round vote in February but did not gain the 50 percent needed for an overall win.
His opponent lost by more than 10 points, but more than 60 percent of voters opted for other candidates opposing Mr. Moreno, meaning a win for conservative Mr. Lasso is looking likely this Sunday.
Mr. Assange, 45, entered the London embassy, thanks to outgoing President Rafael Correa, in August 2012 after being accused of sexually assaulting two women in Sweden in 2010.
In August 2015 three of the less serious allegations had to be dropped because the Swedish prosecutor had still not interviewed Mr. Assange, but prosecutors have until 2020 to interview him over the allegation of “lesser degree rape”.
He has only appeared in daylight a few times over the past few years on the balcony at the embassy to give speeches.
His biggest fear about leaving his safe haven is being deported to Sweden could lead to a politically motivated deportation to the United States, where he could face the death penalty for his WikiLeaks activities which include a series of leaks about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars provided by former US soldier Chelsea Manning – who was jailed for 35 years on espionage crimes.
President Correa has always supported Mr. Assange, believing the Swedish warrant for his arrest is politically motivated
Source: Neon Nettle