“The development sets up a possible future tug-of-war between Sweden and the United States over any extradition of Assange from Britain,” the AP reports.
Rep. Tusli Gabbard (D-HI) said she would drop criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and whistleblower Edward Snowden if elected, Newsweek reports.
“The Swedish authorities announced on Monday that they would reopen an investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, who is serving a prison term in Britain for jumping bail as the United States seeks his extradition for his role in a huge breach of classified data,” the New York Times reports.
“The United States has already begun trying to extradite Mr. Assange, an effort that was expected to be prolonged and complex even before the announcement in Stockholm on Monday, and it could be further complicated by Sweden’s wish to reinstate its investigation.”
“A British court sentenced Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, to 50 weeks in jail on Wednesday for jumping bail when he took refuge in Ecuador’s Embassy in London seven years ago,” the New York Times reports.
“His complex legal travails are far from over: The United States is seeking Mr. Assange’s extradition for prosecution there, and officials in Sweden have left open the possibility that he could face criminal charges in that country, as well.”
BBC: “More details emerged later, when Foreign Minister José Valencia told Congress that Assange had been using a mobile phone not registered with the embassy, repeatedly insulted the mission’s workers – reportedly calling them US spies – and damaged the facilities by riding his skateboard and playing football, despite being told not to do so.”
“Cleaning staff, Mr Valencia said, had described ‘improper hygienic conduct’ throughout Assange’s stay, an issue that a lawyer had attributed to ‘stomach problems’. One unnamed senior Ecuadorean official told AP news agency that other issues included ‘weeks without a shower’ and a ‘dental problem born of poor hygiene.'”
“Interior Minister María Paula Romo then complained that Assange had been allowed to do things like ‘put faeces on the walls of the embassy and other behaviours of that nature.'”
Daily Beast: “His dramatic expulsion from the embassy follows a year of ratcheting tension between Assange and his Ecuadorian hosts, culminating in Wikileaks publicizing a leak of hundreds of thousands of hacked emails mysteriously stolen from the inboxes of Ecuador’s president and first lady.
“It was this last move that finally set Ecuador’s government firmly against Assange, who was by then already being treated less like a political refugee than an inmate—albeit one who was free to leave at any time.”
“WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hadn’t been seen in public for many months before he was arrested and hauled out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday,” CNN reports.
“It was a moment that global news organizations were desperate to show their audiences. Yet it wasn’t captured by leading UK broadcasters like the BBC, Sky News or Independent Television News… Instead, the only media organization with video of the controversial moment was an obscure outfit called Ruptly.”
“Ruptly, which has carved out a niche for itself by recording events around the world and selling the footage to other broadcasters, is a subsidiary of Russian state-backed media outlet RT.”
“Prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia unsealed a conspiracy charge against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was arrested by British police Thursday in Ecuador’s London embassy with the permission of Ecuadoran authorities,” the Washington Post reports.
“The case accuses Assange of conspiring to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer when working with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, who released hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and war logs in 2010.”
Australian diplomats have reportedly visited Julian Assange in Ecuador’s embassy in London to hear firsthand about his health, the Sydney Morning Herald Reports.
Assange’s attorney “said he and his colleagues will now directly appeal to Foreign Minister Marise Payne to petition the UK government to let Assange leave the embassy for urgent medical care without being arrested.”
“In mid-May 2017, Paul Manafort, facing intensifying pressure to settle debts and pay mounting legal bills, flew to Ecuador to offer his services to a potentially lucrative new client — the country’s incoming president, Lenín Moreno,” the New York Times reports.
“Mr. Manafort made the trip mainly to see if he could broker a deal under which China would invest in Ecuador’s power system, possibly yielding a fat commission for Mr. Manafort.”
“But the talks turned to a diplomatic sticking point between the United States and Ecuador: the fate of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been investigating a meeting between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno in Quito in 2017 and has specifically asked if WikiLeaks or its founder, Julian Assange, were discussed in the meeting, CNN reports.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort told the National Review that he has never met privately with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and threatened to sue the Guardian for reporting that he has.
Said Manafort: “This story is totally false and deliberately libelous. I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to Wikileaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or Wikileaks on any matter. We are considering all legal options against the Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false.”
“Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign,” The Guardian reports.
“Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.”
“It is unclear why Manafort wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”
Mother Jones: “In early January, Roger Stone, the longtime Republican operative and adviser to Donald Trump, sent a text message to an associate stating that he was actively seeking a presidential pardon for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange—and felt optimistic about his chances.“
“The recipient of the messages was Randy Credico, a New York-based comedian and left-leaning political activist who Stone has identified as his backchannel to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign—a claim Credico strongly denies.”
“Documents reviewed and authenticated by ABC News in Quito show that the Ecuadorian government gave Assange diplomatic credentials and diplomatic immunity in order to allow him to leave their London embassy without fear of arrest by British police and take up a post in Russia.”
“Russian diplomats held secret talks in London last year with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the UK,” the Guardian reports.
“A tentative plan was devised that would have seen the WikiLeaks founder smuggled out of Ecuador’s London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country. One ultimate destination, multiple sources have said, was Russia, where Assange would not be at risk of extradition to the US.”
“The plan was abandoned after it was deemed too risky.”
Secret documents obtained by the Associated Press show that Julian Assange sought a Russian visa in 2010.
“The ex-hacker’s links to the Kremlin would become increasingly salient before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, when the FBI says Russia’s military intelligence agency directly supplied WikiLeaks with stolen emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and other Democratic figures.”
ABC News: “As his residency at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London enters its seventh year, the self-styled cyber revolutionary – WikiLeaks’ founder and controversial publisher of some of the world’s most closely guarded official secrets – is facing a pair of converging crises that have left his allies fearing for his wellbeing and his safety.”
“Inside the embassy, he is living an increasingly secluded existence, having been stripped of his phones, computers and visitor privileges after running afoul of the very government that gave him asylum. Outside the embassy, he is embroiled in the global political scandal surrounding Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, with questions about his role in that drama being raised by friends and foes alike.”
“In more ways than one, the very walls protecting Assange also appear to be closing in.”