Tensions between Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and his asylum state are beginning to rise while the election results in Ecuador illustrate divided public opinion on the future of his asylum.
The future of the Wikileaks mogul might be determined along with the next president of Ecuador. Third place candidate, Cynthia Viteri was reported to say that she would “withdraw his asylum” if she won the presidency. However, since she lost in the first round, all eyes are now on the two remaining candidates in the runoff: Guillermo Lasso and Lenin Moreno.
This all comes after Assange claimed he would willfully agree to extradition to the United States if Chelsea Manning was granted clemency by Barack Obama before he left office. After Obama commuted her sentence, Assange reportedly stood by his word, but reiterated that since “it’s not going to be commuted [until May]… We can have many discussions to that point.”
We might have to wait until the runoff election results in April before we will know the future of Julian Assange, or May when Chelsea Manning is due to be released from prison. The current favored candidate to win, Lenin Moreno, was reported to say that he would continue Assange’s asylum under certain conditions, and Lasso offered Julian Assange an ultimatum of one month before he would have to leave the embassy if he wins the election.
Recent reports indicate that Moreno has a mixed opinion of the controversial publisher. On one hand, the candidate says that he was granted asylum because a “citizen of the world” was in danger. On the other hand, Moreno believes Assange should “reduce meddling in the policies of the nations we have friendly relations with… the way he meddled with the election campaign in the United States.”
During the heat of the U.S. presidential election, the government of Ecuador admitted to temporarily restricting Assange’s internet service to avoid him interfering too much in the election. Wikileaks was occasionally cited as a source during the presidential debates.
Assange himself might have to wait and see how things will work out in Ecuador before his fate will be determined. He is currently located at the embassy of Ecuador in London. It is conceivable that he could find a different country for asylum if Ecuador decides to remove his asylum, that he could eventually agree to terms of extradition back to the United States, or another scenario. In short, we will have to wait and see what is going to happen to Julian Assange.