Sunday, 29 July 2018 06:22

Assange extradition to US fine, if execution ruled out: Ecuador Featured

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Ecuador President Lenin Moreno has said he has no objection to the UK agreeing to extradite WikiLeaks' publisher Julian Assange to the US, if there is an understanding that he will not face the death penalty for his publishing of leaked US military secrets.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Moreno said Ecuador was not helping Assange to exercise his rights by prolonging his stay in Ecuador's London embassy, and therefore had to find a way to end the impasse.

He said any solution would have to ensure Assange's rights, especially his right to life, while at the same time it removed what was obviously a problem for his country.

"The ideal way out would be to talk with Mr Assange and his lawyer in order to consult them if he is willing to accept the conditions under which the United Kingdom provides the possibility of an exit," Moreno said according to a Google translation of his interview.

"And if that happens, we understand that there is a penalty that he would have to assume for having violated the principle of going to appear regularly before the British laws. And after passing that, immediately be able to enjoy the possibility of being extradited to a country where there is no danger."

Last week, as iTWire  reported, The Intercept  claimed that Moreno had either finalised, or was about to finalise, an agreement with Britain to end the asylum protection for Assange.

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.

The editor of The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald, wrote in last week's report: "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 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 WikiLeaks publisher 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

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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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