Julian Assange Could Be Turned Over To U.K. Authorities Soon

Blanche Robertson
July 22, 2018

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange greets supporters from a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June, 2017.

Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno is set to finalize an agreement with the United Kingdom government to lift Assange's asylum status, The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald reported, citing a source within the Ecuador's foreign ministry. Moreno will also travel to Madrid, notes Greenwald, where Spanish officials are angry over Assange's denouncing of Spain's government over human rights against protesters.

Such an offense carries a prison term of three months, Greenwald says, warning, however, that the United Kingdom authorities could potentially elevate charges against Assange to "contempt of court", which carries a prison term of up to two years. The source said the president is close to finalizing the agreement to hand Assange over to British officials. Besides, UK authorities are unlikely to provide a guarantee that the WikiLeaks founder would not be extradited to the United States, which is apparently bent on imprisoning him for releasing classified documents.

If Assange is turned over to United Kingdom officials, it's likely he'll continue to be imprisoned. Greenwald also supported and defended Wikileaks, as well as the whistleblowers who provided materials for the website, for many years.

Swedish prosecutors dropped the sexual assault charges against Assange past year and he faces only a "failure to surrender" charge in Sweden.

Kate and William celebrate Prince George's fifth birthday with adorable photo
James's Palace on July 9, and in official photos marking the royal baptism, the Press Association reported. Matt Porteous was tapped to photograph the little prince at Kensington Palace for the official portrait.

However, British authorities could argue that Assange's evasion rose above a simple failure to surrender charge, and that he could be charged for contempt of court, which could bring a two-year sentence.

The damage WikiLeaks has done to US interests around the world is considerable and hauling him into court might discourage others who think it's perfectly OK to leak classified material. The Trump administration, though, has no such concerns, noted Greenwald.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last April that the arrest of Assange would become a priority for the Justice Department.

Greenwald argues that Assange's eventual prosecution could pave the way for the prosecution of American journalists who wil not stand uop for Assange because of they are "consumed with hatred for Assange due to personal reasons, professional jealousies, and anger over the role they believed he played in 2016 in helping Hillary Clinton lose". According to Greenwald, such a development could lead to Assange being sent to jail for at least one more year "under his best-case scenario", which would mean that he would have spent almost a decade imprisoned "despite never having been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime".

Would Great Britain do the USA a favor and extradite Assange?

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