The Guardian view on Julian Assange: it would be wrong to extradite him | Editorial

The WikiLeaks founder has been in Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012. Clear judgment will be required if he now leaves his self-imposed retreat

It is almost seven years since the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange skipped bail and sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy. Now there are signs that the Assange case may be nearing a turning point. The immediate cause is a change in Ecuador’s attitude. Over the years, Ecuador’s ardour in support of Mr Assange has cooled for a variety of reasons, including shifting politics. Two months ago relations went into the deep freeze after private pictures of President Lenín Moreno and his family began appearing online, followed by the publication of papers that appear to implicate Mr Moreno in corruption, perjury and money laundering, which he has denied. A week ago, the president said Mr Assange was violating his asylum conditions. This was followed by repeated rumours that he would soon be leaving the embassy.

These events have not occurred in a global vacuum. Things have become more threatening for Mr Assange since Donald Trump succeeded Barack Obama in the White House two years ago. Ecuador’s economy is facing recession and mounting debt. It has just been bailed out by the IMF, to which the US is the largest contributor. Mr Trump has recently received the still-to-be-published Mueller report, which examined allegations that WikiLeaks was involved in publishing emails obtained by Russian hackers during the 2016 election. Mr Trump is also currently cutting a swath through the management of the US homeland security department, demanding tougher regimes against Latin American migrants and cybercriminals. All of this adds up to a more confrontational US stance towards countries like Ecuador and dissidents like Mr Assange.

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Source : The Guardian view on Julian Assange: it would be wrong to extradite him | Editorial