By Whitney Webb of Mint Press News
For the better part of five years, Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, has been living within the confines of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. In 2012, Assange was fleeing falsified rape charges in Sweden when he was granted political asylum by Ecuador. However, he found himself unable to leave the embassy, as the government of the United Kingdom promptly announced its plans to extradite him if he left the premises.
Many have said that although Assange is officially wanted in Sweden, the ultimate goal of his extradition to the Scandinavian nation would be his subsequent extradition to the United States, where he has made many powerful enemies through Wikileaks’ publication of sensitive and classified government documents and emails. Despite the fact that even the United Nations has ruled that the UK’s insistence on extraditing Assange constitutes unlawful “arbitrary detention” and deprives him of fundamental human rights, Assange’s situation remains largely unchanged.
However, Ecuador’s upcoming runoff election, set to conclude April 2, could dramatically alter Assange’s situation, particularly if Guillermo Lasso – the conservative, opposition-party candidate – wins the contest. Lasso, who was recently named the most likely winner of the upcoming runoff, has stated that he would end Assange’s “costly” asylum in the embassy, adding that “the Ecuadorian people have been paying a cost that we should not have to bear”…