Debate rages and all eyes turn to Ecuadorian embassy as gov’t readies to oust Julian Assange in ‘hours to days’

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Julian Assange leaves after speaking to the media from the balcony of the Embassy Of Ecuador on May 19, 2017 in London, England. Julian Assange, founder of the Wikileaks website that published US Government secrets, has been wanted in Sweden on charges of rape since 2012. He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and today police have said he will still face arrest if he leaves. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The Ecuadorian government is reportedly preparing to boot WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from its embassy in London allegedly because of his organization’s coverage of a damaging scandal involving the nation’s embattled president, Lenín Moreno.

“BREAKING: A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told @WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within ‘hours to days’ using the #INAPapers offshore scandal as a pretext–and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest,” WikiLeaks tweeted Thursday.

While the Ecuadorian government has remained silent in the face of this claim, earlier this week Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno accused Assange of violating his terms of asylum.

“Speaking to the Ecuadorean radio broadcasters association on Tuesday, Moreno said under the terms of his asylum ‘Assange cannot lie or, much less, hack into private accounts or private phones’ and he could not ‘intervene in the politics of countries, or worse friendly countries,'” The Guardian reported Tuesday.

Yet photos of Moreno, his bedroom, him eating and his wife and daughters dancing have been circulating on social media, and the Ecuadorian president appears to believe Assange is responsible and has therefore reportedly complained to the United Nations about him.

“The Ecuadorean government directly referred to WikiLeaks in a formal complaint to the special rapporteur for the right to privacy, Joseph Cannataci, at the UN’s human rights council on Monday. It accused the organization of using social media to spread hacked private photos and personal information from Moreno’s personal computers, tablets and other devices,” the Guardian noted.

However, WikiLeaks is confident that the real reason for the country’s newfound concerns about Assange’s alleged asylum violations have to do with its coverage of Moreno’s shady behavior.

The “#INAPapers offshore scandal” that the organization has referenced in its tweets refer to allegations that the Ecuadorean president has benefited financially from an offshore account in Panama.

“The INA Papers are a set of documents published in February 2019, allegedly uncovering the operations of INA Investment Corp, an offshore tax haven created by the brother of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno,” a press relief by WikiLeaks explains.

“The trove of emails, phone communications and expense receipts are said to link the president and his family to a series of corrupt and criminal dealings, including money laundering and offshore accounts. The leak has sparked a congressional investigation into President Moreno for corruption. Moreno can’t be summoned for a criminal probe while he remains president. He is currently being investigated and risks impeachment.”

After WikiLeaks highlighted this news in a tweet late last March, the Ecuadorean government began pummeling the hacker with criticism. One official went so far as to suggest that the #INAPapers scandal is a manufactured plot by “Julian Assange, Venezuelan President Maduro and former Ecuadorian President Correa to bring down Moreno’s government,” according to WikiLeaks.

As of Friday morning, Assange still remained at the embassy, though a live video feed had been set up outside the facility to monitor the situation. It’s unclear what’ll occur next.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU’RE MISSING …

What also remains unclear is what’ll happen to Assange if he’s booted from the embassy. Some suspect he’ll be immediately taken into custody by U.K. authorities and then extradited to the United States, where he’s reportedly been under investigation for publishing classified U.S. intelligence.

Recall that in 2010, Assange published a trove of classified U.S. government documents that had been funneled to him by then-Army Pvt. Bradley Manning. While Manning was eventually charged and prosecuted for the offense, Assange has thus far faced no justice, in part because he’s been holed up at the Ecuadorean embassy, safe from the reach of U.S. officials.

But with his stay at the embassy approaching a possible abrupt end, the chances of him being extradited to the U.S. seem inordinately high. What’ll happen to him once he arrives here remains unclear, though it’s notable that leftists seem to want him to be prosecuted, whereas conservatives appear to prefer that he be pardoned.

Look:

HERE’S WHAT YOU’RE MISSING …

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Vivek Saxena

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