War of Words Heats Up Between Ecuador, Assange

Julian Assange remains in London embassy to avoid arrest
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2019 9:15 AM CDT
Ecuador Says It's Not Expelling WikiLeaks Founder
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange looks out from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2017.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, FILE)

Ecuador has denied a claim by WikiLeaks that Julian Assange is about to be expelled from the country's embassy in London. WikiLeaks had tweeted Friday that its founder would be kicked out of the embassy within "hours to days." Late Friday, NBC reports, Ecuador's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that Assange and WikiLeaks have shown "ingratitude and disrespect" toward the country that has sheltered him by giving credence to rumors that he would be turned over to British authorities. Assange has been holed up in the embassy since 2012. Britain's foreign secretary said Friday that Assange is "a free man, he can leave that embassy whenever he wants to," but Assange seems unlikely to fall for that: Britain also has said he'll be arrested on a charge of skipping bail.

Police were stationed outside the London embassy after WikiLeaks' tweet, per the Hill. Officers confirmed to reporters that they'll arrest Assange if he leaves diplomatic soil. He also could be extradicted to the US over WikiLeaks' publication of classified military and diplomatic cables. Ecuador has protected him from those fates, and pointed out in the statement that it "has made significant expenditures to pay for his stay." In return for helping WikiLeaks, the country said it has "endured its rudeness." (More Julian Assange stories.)

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