Ecuador Will Imminently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the U.K. What Comes Next?

The central oddity of Assange’s case — that he has been effectively imprisoned for eight years despite never having been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime — is virtually certain to be prolonged.

By Glenn Greenwald and cross-posted from The Intercept

Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno traveled to London on Friday for the ostensible purpose of speaking at the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit (Moreno has been using a wheelchair since being shot in a 1998 robbery attempt). The concealed, actual purpose of the president’s trip is to meet with British officials to finalize an agreement under which Ecuador will withdraw its asylum protection of Julian Assange, in place since 2012, eject him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and then hand over the WikiLeaks founder to British authorities.

Moreno’s itinerary also notably includes a trip to Madrid, where he will meet with Spanish officials still seething over Assange’s denunciation of human rights abuses perpetrated by Spain’s central government against protesters marching for Catalonian independence. Almost three months ago, Ecuador blocked Assange from accessing the internet, and Assange has not been able to communicate with the outside world ever since. The primary factor in Ecuador’s decision to silence him was Spanish anger over Assange’s tweets about Catalonia.

Presidential decree signed on July 17 by Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, outlining his trip to London and Madrid.

A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry and the president’s office, unauthorized to speak publicly, has confirmed to The Intercept that Moreno is close to finalizing, if he has not already finalized, an agreement to hand over Assange to the U.K. within the next several weeks. The withdrawal of asylum and physical ejection of Assange could come as early as this week. On Friday, RT reported that Ecuador was preparing to enter into such an agreement.

The consequences of such an agreement depend in part on the concessions Ecuador extracts in exchange for withdrawing Assange’s asylum. But as former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told The Intercept in an interview in May, Moreno’s government has returned Ecuador to a highly “subservient” and “submissive” posture toward western governments.

It is thus highly unlikely that Moreno — who has shown himself willing to submit to threats and coercion from the U.K., Spain and the U.S. — will obtain a guarantee that the U.K. not extradite Assange to the U.S., where top Trump officials have vowed to prosecute Assange and destroy WikiLeaks

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