Julian Assange’s lengthy refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London is in serious jeopardy, CNN reported Thursday, citing several sources with knowledge of the Internet hacker’s situation.
His current situation is “unusually bad” and he could be asked to leave the embassy “any day now,” sources claim. Embassy officials are attempting to make Assange’s stay so unbearable that he is all but forced to leave. He has also spent nearly 53 days isolated from visitors and outside communications.
His exit could give the U.S. government the opportunity to delve into what Assange knows. Investigators believe Russia used the WikiLeaks founder as an intermediary to publish stolen emails swiped from the Democratic National Committee prior to the 2016 presidential election.
Assange has been detained without charge for 2,720 days, his lawyers claim. There is “not a shred of evidence that Assange has done anything but publish material just as the establishment media do every day,” according to a May 19 tweet from his lawyers.
“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 U.S. Espionage Act,” his lawyer, Melinda Taylor, told CNN.
Ecuador’s newly elected president is also under intense pressure from the U.S., Spain and the U.K. to expel Assange, sources said.
Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno called Assange an “inherited problem” and “more than a nuisance” in a television interview in January.
U.S. investigators also probed the extent to which elements within President Donald Trump’s campaign team coordinated with Assange.
Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, for instance, has long been at the center of controversy over allegations he worked with Assange in the lead-up to the 2016 election.
Accusations of collaboration with WikiLeaks have dogged Stone since he made statements in August 2016 that he was in “communication” with the group and in October 2016 he had a “back channel” of communication with Assange.
Stone later clarified he had communicated with someone at WikiLeaks via radio host Randy Credico, who confirmed previous statements Assange made. Credico has denied serving as a back channel to The Daily Beast.
In the U.S., Assange’s fate is even more uncertain. U.S. officials have maintained a secret grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks for nearly eight years, Assange’s lawyers claim.
“For the last eight years, the U.K. has refused to either confirm or deny that they have received an extradition request from the U.S. At the same time, they have refused to provide assurances that Julian will not be extradited to the U.S. if such a request were to be received and maintained an ever-present vigil of the Embassy, notwithstanding a U.N. directive to take steps to ensure Julian’s immediate liberty,” Taylor told CNN.
“Their silence speaks volumes, particularly in light of recent statements from U.S. officials that Julian’s arrest and extradition are a priority.”
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