In Ecuador, security forces have arrested a “very close” employee of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The suspect was arrested when he was about to leave for Japan, Interior Minister María Paula Romo said on Thursday (local time). Earlier, after almost seven years of asylum, Assange was arrested by the British police at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The United States demands its extradition.
The left-wing Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa granted Assange the embassy asylum on humanitarian grounds in 2012. Correa’s successor Lenin Moreno wanted to end this state, however. He accused Assange of meddling in the internal affairs of Ecuador. Most recently, documents linking Moreno and his family to corruption and money laundering have surfaced. Moreno thinks Wikileaks has stabbed this information.
“In Ecuador, there is a plan of destabilization that has geopolitical interests,” said Interior Minister Romo after the arrest of the suspect. “We have evidence of a relationship between the now arrested and Ricardo Patiño, who was foreign minister when Julian Assange was granted asylum.” The minister did not provide any information on the identity of the person arrested. But she called him a “key figure” of Wikileaks, He said he had been living in Ecuador for years and had traveled abroad with Patino several times. According to a media report, the man is said to be a Swede specializing in security engineering and encryption.
The 47-year-old Australian Assange is regarded by many as a public enemy in the United States for publishing secret American documents. Scotland Yard arrested him for breaking a custody order in 2012 following a 2012 court order. A court in London owed Assange a few hours later on this point. The offense can be punished with up to one year in prison.
The British judiciary is now considering extraditing Assange to the United States. There he was charged with conspiracy to attack government computers, according to the Justice Department. For this, Assange faces up to five years imprisonment. The allegations relate to the publication of hundreds of thousands of secret government documents in 2010 and 2011, leaked to the Wikileaks disclosure platform by former Chelsea Manning soldier.
In Sweden, Assange threatens another legal battle. The Stockholm Public Prosecutor’s Office had filed the investigation into rape allegations in 2017. The woman’s lawyer, who ruled that Assange was raped in 2010, said she would “do anything” to get the prosecution back to investigate and Assange to be delivered to Sweden.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison rules out that his government could interfere with the case. That was “a matter for the US” and “has nothing to do with us,” said Morrison on Friday according to local media. Assange will not be treated differently from other Australians, he is granted the usual consular support, Morrison told ABC. “If Australians travel abroad and come into conflict with the law, they have to face up to the justice system of each country. It does not matter what crime they allegedly committed. “
Opposition also came from the opposition. Australia’s Green Party leader Richard Di Natale said Australia must ensure that Assange is not extradited. “This arrest is a dark day for press freedom around the world,” Natale said. There are rallies in support of Assange in Sydney and Melbourne on Friday.