Monday, 23 July 2018 06:26

Assange may be handed over to UK this week: report Featured

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The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, has either finalised, or is about to finalise, an agreement with the UK to end the asylum protection for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange even as early as this week, The Intercept reports.

The website's editor, Glenn Greenwald, wrote that Moreno had begun an unofficial visit to London on Friday during which it was claimed things would be finalised to hand over Assange to British authorities.

Moreno is also due to visit Spain which had taken strong objection to Assange's criticism of alleged human rights abuses by Spain at the time when Catalonia launched protests for independence. Ecuador has blocked Assange from the Internet for the last three months, with his intervention in the Catalonia affair reportedly being the reason.

Ecuador signed a security agreement with the US in May, a sharp move away from policies pursued by the previous government led by Rafael Correa.

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

In April, Assange lost a bid in court to get an UK arrest warrant against him dropped.

The Australian has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012.

His problems began when he visited Sweden in August 2010 to attend a conference where he was scheduled to give a talk. During that visit, he had sex with two women whom he met. The pair filed rape and molestation complaints against him later, claims that he denied.

He was questioned by Swedish authorities and cleared of all accusations. He could have left the country then and there but stayed for a while, in case the authorities decided to question him again.

Interpol issued a Red Notice for his arrest on 20 November 2010. On 27 November, Assange surrendered to authorities and appeared before a Westminster judge. Bail was granted to him in December after his backers provided £240,000 in cash and sureties.

Then began a protracted period of legal back and forth that went on until June 2012, when Swedish prosecutors sought his extradition.

Assange's lawyers, among them the world-renowned Australian Geoffrey Robertson, replied that if he agreed to the extradition request, then he could be flown to the US from there.

On 19 June 2012, he jumped bail and took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy, seeking asylum in the South American country. British police surrounded the building and blocked any chance of his leaving.

Ecuador granted him asylum in August 2012. He has had to stay inside the four walls of the embassy since then. He was recently granted Ecuadorian citizenship.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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