Ecuador says now’s the time for As­sange to leave its em­bassy

Wik­ileaks founder has been liv­ing there since 2012, but the re­la­tion­ship has soured MORE NEWS A THES­TAR.COM/ WORLD

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Ecuador Pres­i­dent Lenin Moreno says that Bri­tain has pro­vided enough guar­an­tees for Ju­lian As­sange to leave his gov­ern­ment’s em­bassy in Lon­don. QUITO, ECUADOR—ECUADOR’S pres­i­dent has ramped up pres­sure on Ju­lian As­sange to leave his coun­try’s em­bassy in Lon­don, say­ing that Bri­tain had pro­vided suf­fi­cient guar­an­tees that the Wik­ileaks founder won’t be ex­tra­dited to face the death penalty abroad.

Lenin Moreno’s com­ments in a ra­dio in­ter­view Thurs­day sug­gest that months of quiet diplo­macy be­tween the U.K. and Ecuador to re­solve As­sange’s sit­u­a­tion is bear­ing fruit at a time when ques­tions are swirling about the for­mer Aus­tralian hacker’s le­gal fate in the U.S.

“The road is clear for Mr. As­sange to take the d sion to leave,” Moren said, re­fer­ring to writ­ten as­sur­ances he said he had re­ceived from Bri­tain.

Moreno didn’t say he would force As­sange out, but said the ac­tivist’s le­gal team is con­sid­er­ing its next steps.

As­sange has been holed up in the Ecuado­rian em­bassy since 2012, when he was granted asy­lum while fac­ing al­le­ga­tions of sex crimes in Swe­den that he said were a guise to ex­tra­dite him to the U.S.

But his re­la­tions with his hosts have soured to the point that Moreno ear­lier this year cut off his ac­cess to the in­ter­net, pur­port­edly for vi­o­lat­ing the terms of his asy­lum by speak­ing out on po­lit­i­cal mat­ters.

As­sange in turn sued, say­ing his rights as an Ecuado­rian — he was granted cit­i­zen­ship last year as part of an ap­par­ent at­tempt to name him a diplo­mat and ferry him to Rus­sia — were be­ing vi­o­lated. The mount­ing ten­sions has drawn Moreno closer to the po­si­tion of Bri­tain, which for years has said it is barred by law from ex­tra­dit­ing sus­pects to any ju­ris­dic­tion where they would face cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. But noth­ing is pre­vent­ing it from ex­tra­dit­ing him to the U.S. if pros­e­cu­tors there were to pledge not to seek the death penalty.

As­sange has long main­tained the he faces charges un­der seal in the U.S for re­veal­ing highly sen­si­tive gov­ern­ment in­for­ma­tion on his web­site.

Those fears were height­ened when U.S pros­e­cu­tors last month mis­tak­enly ref­er­enced crim­i­nal charges against him in an un­re­lated case.

The As­so­ci­ated Press and other out­lets have re­ported that As­sange is in­deed fac­ing un­spec­i­fied charges un­der seal, but pros­e­cu­tors have so far pro­vided no of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion.

“THE ROAD IS CLEAR FOR MR. AS­SANGE TO ... LEAVE.” Lenin Moreno

DOLORES OCHOA/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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