from the enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend dept.
Russian diplomats held secret talks in London last year with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the UK, the Guardian has learned.
A tentative plan was devised that would have seen the WikiLeaks founder smuggled out of Ecuador's London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country.
One ultimate destination, multiple sources have said, was Russia, where Assange would not be at risk of extradition to the US. The plan was abandoned after it was deemed too risky.
The operation to extract Assange was provisionally scheduled for Christmas Eve in 2017, one source claimed, and was linked to an unsuccessful attempt by Ecuador to give Assange formal diplomatic status.
Ecuador has granted citizenship to Julian Assange as its government attempts to find creative ways of getting Assange out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London:
Ecuador says it has granted citizenship to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, as officials try to find a way for him to leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London without risking legal action.
Assange, who is Australian, first sought refuge at the embassy more than five years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced an investigation over rape allegations. He was granted asylum, and has been holed up in the embassy ever since.
The original case against him has been dropped, but Assange remains inside the embassy. "He is still subject to arrest in Britain for jumping bail," The Associated Press notes. "He also fears a possible U.S. extradition request based on his leaking of classified State Department documents."
"Earlier this week, Ecuador said the situation was unsustainable and requested diplomatic status for Assange in hopes of springing him," NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from London. "A British government spokesman responded: 'Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice.'"
Also at The Guardian.
Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno traveled to London on Friday for the ostensible purpose of speaking at the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit (Moreno has been using a wheelchair since being shot in a 1998 robbery attempt). The concealed, actual purpose of the President's trip is to meet with British officials to finalize an agreement under which Ecuador will withdraw its asylum protection of Julian Assange, in place since 2012, eject him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and then hand over the WikiLeaks founder to British authorities.
The Associated Press has published a cache of 10 documents that it says are part of a leaked "larger trove of WikiLeaks emails, chat logs, financial records, secretly recorded footage, and other documents." AP reporter Raphael Satter declined to elaborate as to how much more material the AP had or why that material was not being released now.
Among those documents is a purported November 30, 2010 effort by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to seek a Russian visa via its London consulate. That's just a week before Assange surrendered to British authorities who sought him for questioning on behalf of Swedish prosecutors who wanted him on allegations of sexual misconduct. By June 2012, Assange had entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has remained since. Assange has denied any wrongdoing in the Swedish case.
[...] This cache adds intrigue to WikiLeaks' and Assange's ongoing saga. Numerous media outlets reported early last month that Assange's days in the embassy are numbered and that the Ecuadorian authorities could boot him soon. "The files provide both an intimate look at the radical transparency organization and an early hint of Assange's budding relationship with Moscow," Satter wrote.
[...] For its part, WikiLeaks responded shortly after the Associated Press story went live on Monday morning by suggesting that, at a minimum, the visa application document was false, tweeting at numerous media outlets:
Mr. Assange did not apply for such a visa at any time or author the document. The source is document fabricator & paid FBI informant Sigurdur Thordarson who was sentenced to prison for fabricating docs impersonating Assange, multiple frauds & pedophilllia. https://t.co/xzMfhctFx4
Julian Assange announced on Friday that he was suing the Ecuadorean government for "violating his fundamental rights," claiming that his longtime hosts at the country's embassy in London are limiting his contact with the outside world and censoring his speech.
His legal team in the matter, led by the former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, revealed the suit at a news conference in Quito, where the lawsuit was filed. The action aims to prevent strict new rules governing Mr. Assange's visitors and online activity from taking effect.
The policies were laid out in a nine-page memo that was published by a news site this month. (They include directives to clean his bathroom and look after his cat.)
Clean up your room and brush your teeth before you go to bed.
Previously: Julian Assange has His Internet Access Cut Off by Ecuador
Ecuador Spent $5 Million Protecting and Spying on Julian Assange
Ecuador Reportedly Almost Ready to Hand Julian Assange Over to UK Authorities
Associated Press Publishes Supposedly Leaked WikiLeaks Documents
The Guardian: Russian Diplomats Planned to Sneak Julian Assange Out of the UK
Inadvertent Court Filing Suggests that the U.S. DoJ is Preparing to Indict Julian Assange
The Justice Department has prepared an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, marking a drastic escalation of the government's yearslong battle with him and his anti-secrecy group. It was not clear if prosecutors have filed charges against Mr. Assange. The indictment came to light late Thursday through an unrelated court filing in which prosecutors inadvertently mentioned charges against him. "The court filing was made in error," said Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the United States attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia. "That was not the intended name for this filing."
[...] Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at George Washington University who closely tracks court cases, uncovered the filing and posted it on Twitter.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to say on Thursday what led to the inadvertent disclosure. It was made in a recently unsealed filing in an apparently unrelated sex-crimes case charging a man named Seitu Sulayman Kokayi with coercing and enticing an underage person to engage in unlawful sexual activity. Mr. Kokayi was charged in early August, and on Aug. 22, prosecutors filed a three-page document laying out boilerplate arguments for why his case at that time needed to remain sealed.
While the filing started out referencing Mr. Kokayi, federal prosecutors abruptly switched on its second page to discussing the fact that someone named "Assange" had been secretly indicted, and went on to make clear that this person was the subject of significant publicity, lived abroad and would need to be extradited — suggesting that prosecutors had inadvertently pasted text from a similar court filing into the wrong document and then filed it.
"Another procedure short of sealing will not adequately protect the needs of law enforcement at this time because, due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged," prosecutors wrote. They added, "The complaint, supporting affidavit, and arrest warrant, as well as this motion and the proposed order, would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter."