WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke recently regarding the possibility he may soon leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been sheltered from British law looking to extradite him to Sweden, to face charges over alleged sexual misconduct. Assange has received refuge from the embassy for two years now and there are claims his health has deteriorated significantly due to lack of exercise and sunlight. The preceding statements were claimed to be nothing more than rumors by WikiLeaks spokespeople. It was made clear that Assange would be going nowhere until the allegations against him were dropped and he could be free to roam where he so desired.
Assange’s primary concern is that he would be extradited to Sweden and subsequently to U.S. soil where he faces up to 35 years for releasing sensitive governmental information through his news site WikiLeaks. He was granted asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in August of 2012 and has not left the building since. His stay at the embassy has cost British taxpayers over £7 million pounds as three Scotland Yard officers remain outside at all times ready to make an arrest should he step out.
A Swedish court will review the allegations today at a public hearing to determine if the arrest warrant against Assange should be dropped. This would be a huge step forward for Assange, allowing him to finally walk out of the tight confines of the embassy to seek medical attention.
Assange came into the spotlight in 2010, shortly before these sexual misconduct allegations came to light, when his news site WikiLeaks published thousands of confidential U.S. documents which many claim could have put peoples lives, in addition to national security, at risk. The documents, often mesmerizing, revealed much of the behind the scenes activities of governments around the world. The world was shown an unprecedented look at the reality that is international politics.
There are conflicting reports regarding what exactly is holding Julian Assange up in the embassy and why he may not be allowed to leave the embassy sooner rather than later. Requests to bring him to a hospital in a diplomatic car have gone unanswered and could lead to Assange being taken into custody should he make his way to a hospital. The primary factor keeping Assange there is the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), an agreement which enables all European Union member states to extradite defendants without producing evidence in support of the allegations. The law is meant to circumvent wealthy expats looking to avoid paying taxes in certain jurisdictions. Unfortunately, this law can create difficult situations for citizens who are extradited to countries where they can not speak the language and are unable to obtain legal aid. It becomes extremely complicated to bypass this law and Assange will have a difficult time making an attempt to prove the allegations are politically motivated.
Julian Assange wants to leave the embassy as soon as possible because he has not seen his family the entire time he has been there. During that time his step-father and grandfather have both passed away and most difficult has been the inability to see his children. He continues to avoid their exposure at all costs for fear they could be used as leverage against him.
By Steve Salazar