Julian Assange Plans to Leave Ecuadorian Embassy A Free Man

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From an article in The Irish Times: “THE WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who has spent over two years inside Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, plans to walk out a free man.  According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Assange plans to avoid arrest and extradition to Sweden – where he is wanted on allegations of sexual assault and rape, which he denies – after changes to UK laws.

In an interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Assange said he anticipated legal reforms in Britain would facilitate a resolution of his circumstances and end the prospect of his extradition.  Earlier today, he surprised the world’s media by saying he planned to leave the building “soon” – but failing to give a more definitive timeframe.

“I am leaving the embassy soon … but perhaps not for the reasons that Murdoch press and Sky news are saying at the moment,” Assange told reporters at the embassy in central London, before refusing to clarify his comments.  There has been increasingly speculation in the media and on Twitter that health problems were about to force him to surrender to British police.

But in a later interview reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the 43-year-old talked of “a range of important legal developments in the United Kingdom,” especially the British government’s decision to opt out of the European Arrest Warrant system.

It was under that system that Sweden sought his extradition to be questioned about sexual assault and rape allegations first raised in August 2010.  “It has been our legal advice from the very beginning that under international law and European law everyone has a right to asylum and that right must be respected legally,” Mr Assange said.

The 43-year-old Australian has previously said he fears that if Britain extradited him to Sweden he would then be extradited to the United States where he could be tried for one of the largest information leaks in U.S. history.  Speaking to Fairfax Media, Mr Assange said he believed that British legal reform and debate in the British Parliament showed that “the mood is shifting, there is now an understanding that what I have been saying about the injustice of arrest and extradition without charge was right all along”.

Asked by Fairfax Media whether he expected to leave the embassy in months rather than years, Mr Assange said “there have been many significant developments that are likely to result in a much faster resolution.”

Royce Christyn
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