back to article WikiLeave? Assange tipped for Ecuadorian eviction

The Ecuadorian government has reportedly sought a plan to end Julian Assange's world's longest couch surfing stint record attempt at its London embassy. Ecuador's foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa told the AFP news agency her country would look to bring in a mediator to help settle the legal dispute that has lead to …

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Wait... he's still there?

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yes, despite the charges being dropped in Sweden, he still faces charges in the UK.

Just like anyone other common criminal, he is doing everything he can to avoid capture.

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In 5 years, surely he could have dug a tunnel to freedom with a tablespoon by now.

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"In 5 years, surely he could have dug a tunnel to freedom with a tablespoon by now."

The embassy is on the first floor. Could be entertaining.

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Anonymous Coward

The embassy utilises apartments on the ground floor. The only floor below it is the basement. The embassy isn't the only tenant of the building and all floors are accessible to all by using the stairwell or lift.

If you read the news article here, you'll see that the police guarded the stairwells and lift in the early days to stop him making a dash up to the roof. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2189749/Threadbare-room-inside-Ecuadorian-embassy-Julian-Assange-hiding.html

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"The embassy utilises apartments on the ground floor. The only floor below it is the basement. The embassy isn't the only tenant of the building and all floors are accessible to all by using the stairwell or lift.

If you read the news article here, you'll see that the police guarded the stairwells and lift in the early days to stop him making a dash up to the roof."

Then how did he appear on the first floor balcony?

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The french Tunnel in Colditz started at the top of the bell tower.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attempts_to_escape_Oflag_IV-C#The_French_tunnel

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@Phil

More interesting, and what I'm missing from the El Reg article, is why this issue is suddenly taking place and becoming a thing.

According to another news agency Assange has been engaged in a massive discussion / dispute on Twitter with the Ecudorian president out of all people over the issue in Spain with Catelonia. Apparently Assange is heavily in favor of them becoming independent and Ecuador is against the idea. Leading up to Assange calling out the Ecudorian president on Twitter over this.

Note: I can't verify this for myself because I don't have a Twitter account nor do I want one. But I do consider my source to be reliable (for whatever that's worth).

How stupid and/or arrogant do you have to be to pull that off? I mean... He has Ecuador to thank for his limited freedom. And then he goes on to verbally attack them? I seriously fail to understand that part.

I know that sometimes you uphold ideals and/or morales, and sometimes you stick behind them no matter what. But openly and verbally attacking the main person who is gracious (and gutsy!) enough to help you by granting you asylum and letting you stay on their ground even at the risk of a diplomatic hiatus? And that's how you thank them?

Sorry... I still think that Wikileaks is/was just the thing we need(ed) (everyone hear of "Don't shoot the messenger?") and it also upsets me that a lot of people are more angry at Assange for exposing all the mishaps instead of getting angry over the idiots who performed all those mishaps in the first place.

But having said that: I expected better than this.

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Lost all faith,

The charges haven't been dropped in Sweden. The less serious sexual assault ones have run out of the 5 year statute of limitations. So I guess that's the same thing.

But the 2 or 3 rape charges have a 10 year sell-by-date. The Swedish prosecutors haven't dropped the charges.

They've cancelled the International Arrest Warrant because their courts told them they had to act proportionately, and so cease pursuing the case if there was no chance of making any progress.

So the IAW is dropped - and half the charges have timed out. But they can attempt to arrest him again, as soon as circumstances change. Like him leaving the embassy.

Conveniently he's broken bail, so the UK plod have to arrest him for that, so the courts can get their pound of flesh out of him. That gives the Swedes the time they need to re-issue the IAW.

Unless Julian waits until we've left the EU, and presumably the IAW system?

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Yes - which is likely longer than any prison sentence he might have served in a relatively comfy Swedish prison - if the Swedes had ever actually charged him, gone to trial and won. He still has to answer for jumping bail in the UK though. Had he left the Ecuadorian embassy (or never entered it) when Obama was in power, he could have been long gone by now - Obama's administration never showed any interest in him. Trump's administration may be a different matter.

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Anonymous Coward

"a very respectful way"

Stuffed in a diplomatic suitcase with a one way ticket to Gitmo ?

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Re: "a very respectful way"

Smuggled out in Pamela Anderson's cleavage?

Alright, alright. Calm down. Don't tell me you weren't thinking of it too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "a very respectful way"

They even went as was as stopping illegally diplomatic planes to get him, under the excuse of the the investigations.

They deployed Stingrays.

24x7 vigilance for years.

C.mon, I dont like the man, but you cant say that they do that for ANYBODY else jumping bail, it is simply not true.

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Re: "a very respectful way"

For anybody else jumping bail, then either:

a) they don't know where they are, in which case there's nowhere to stake out, although they will investigate. So they can't run a years-long stakeout OR:

b) they know where they are and they're in the UK, not in an embassy, in which case they just arrest them, so they don't need to run a years-long stakeout. OR:

c) they know where they are and they're outside the UK, in which case they will apply for the local police to arrest him and for extradition, but it's not their jurisdiction to run stakeouts.

So yes, Julian Assange is being treated specially, but that's because the wanted fugitive was granted asylum in a foreign embassy in the UK, which doesn't usually happen. The UK police know they will only get one chance to grab him, if/when he leaves the embassy to head for a boat or plane, and don't want to miss him (because that would be really bad press if nothing else), so they had officers stationed outside waiting for him.

There's no need to invoke conspiracy theories about them being out to "get him". The only people giving Julian special treatment are the Ecudorians.

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Re: "a very respectful way"

@AC, no-one stopped diplomatic planes to try to catch Assange. You're confusing him with Snowden.

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He hasn't been in the news much lately...

It's probably just another way of to pump up his profile/ego a bit.

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Re: He hasn't been in the news much lately...

My initial thought as well.

She added that a third country might help out by offering Assange a new couch.

I don't think I would want to see what the state of the current one is. After 5 years of surfing porn saving Western Civilisation As We Know It from evil dictators I should think that that couch could probably reproduce itself now.

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Re: He hasn't been in the news much lately...

"It's probably just another way of to pump up his profile/ego a bit."

Please, Bre'r Fox... Whatever you do, PLEASE don't throw me into that briar patch!!

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Re: He hasn't been in the news much lately...

After 5 years of surfing porn saving Western Civilisation As We Know It from evil dictators I should think that that couch could probably reproduce itself now

I suspect it will have to be burned :).

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Here's a question

I've always wondered, can't they remove him in a "diplomatic pouch"? Or is being able to smuggle people in/out in crates marked diplomatic a movie trope that doesn't exist in the real world?

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Re: Here's a question

It was tried once; someone tried to kidnap an African politician.This ended in tears ISTR.

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Re: Here's a question

It has been used on a couple of occasions for kidnap,

I think you're thinking of the Dikko Affair where a Nigerian exile was drugged and placed in a crate by Mossad agents and employees of the Nigerian embassy in London so that he could be returned to Nigeria for trial.

Mossad was involved because Nigeria was one of the biggest suppliers of crude oil to Israel which couldn't get it from Arab suppliers, and reciprocated by buying lots of Israeli weapons.

The crate was not actually labelled as diplomatic bags so the British police were able to open them and find the poor guy. The Nigerian and Israeli kidnappers were all found guilty and sentenced to long prison terms.

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Re: Here's a question

The Israelis have done this more than once. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordechai_Vanunu

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Re: Here's a question

They would have to (a) grant him citizenship and (b) give him a diplomatic passport. But then he could only go to Ecuador...

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Re: Here's a question

He'd probably be a lot happier living in Ecuador rather than living in a couple rooms in an embassy, even if he couldn't leave - I know I would! Presumably he is not destitute, so he could afford his own lodgings there and be self-sufficient. He'd be a lot less dependent on them than he is now, that's for sure!

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Re: Here's a question

and C, get him accredited as a diplomat by the UK.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Here's a question

and C, get him accredited as a diplomat by the UK

.. which is the reason it'll never happen. He cannot gain diplomatic status (and thus the associated protection) without permission of the host country, and that ain't going to happen.

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Re: Here's a question

"can't they remove him in a "diplomatic pouch"?"

Diplomatic bags are only for documents and "articles for diplomatic use" - not people. If the police work out that there is a person in a diplomatic bag, it ceases to be a diplomatic bag.

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Re: Here's a question

Yes they could smuggle him out in a diplomatic 'bag', which can be a container or anything. However they just have to take him out under their protection which would prevent the police from detailing him.

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Re: Here's a question

Nope. There is no diplomatic protection to give. if he's outside the embassy, he's fair game. In or out of a diplomatic bag.

The police are allowed to arrest diplomats, they just can't charge them without permission of their own government. I doubt you're allowed to hold them for long either, and you have to contact their embassy once you've got them.

As for the ABC thing, the Guardian yesterday say that Ecuador tried it. Some journo found his name on their equivalent of the electoral rolls - meaning he's been given citizenship, if true. And they recently applied to the UK government for a diplomatic visa. Which was refused.

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Re: Here's a question

Diplomatic status - all academic now.

The pressure is now on Ecuador to find a resolution. If the subject does not leave voluntarily, they may have to resort to eviction.

Either way, it is not going to end happily for him. His detention may also give the governments a vector into wikileaks, which he my need to take into account as he considers his remaining options.

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Anonymous Coward

Apply for asylum in Iran, get a passport, then he won't be able to get into America, problem solved.

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Except Iran was known to have taken part in the US' extraordinary rendition practices by handing people over to the CIA to be tortured.

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He may regret waiting

He'll have to face the bail-jumping charges in the UK, but once that's done he may discover that hiding out until The Donald was elected was a bad idea. Despite his fears of being extradited to the US I suspect that the Obama administration would have ignored him, to avoid giving him free publicity. Trump, on the other hand, is more than likely to pander to his redneck voters and attempt to make an example of him.

Of course, maybe that's what the narcissistic St. Julien really wants.

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Re: He may regret waiting

There's certainly wisdom in "getting it over and done with" whilst the going is good.

I recall that years ago a US official said that whilst they might not have liked what Assange has done, it was far from clear that he had in fact broken any US law. If you were to apply US law to none US citizens handling US classified material whilst not on US territory, you'd have to have arrest warrants out for members of the KGB, etc. And a whole load of Allied nations would be somewhat wary... And that would be ridiculous.

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Re: He may regret waiting

OK, I'm confused. I thought it was generally accepted now that Wikileaks had selectively leaked information to damage the Democrat campaign and and held onto stuff that might have damaged the Trump/Republican campaign. In which case wouldn't they be rather pleased with him?

Or is this one of those "yes, he helped us but we still don't like him and he probably can't help us any more (especially as the Mueller investigation is uncovering more stuff than Wikileaks held on to)" situations?

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Re: He may regret waiting

"OK, I'm confused. I thought it was generally accepted now that Wikileaks had selectively leaked information to damage the Democrat campaign and and held onto stuff that might have damaged the Trump/Republican campaign. In which case wouldn't they be rather pleased with him?"

Do you think Trump is the type of guy to remember these things with people who helped him to the top?

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Re: He may regret waiting

Or is this one of those "yes, he helped us but we still don't like him and he probably can't help us any more (especially as the Mueller investigation is uncovering more stuff than Wikileaks held on to)" situations?.

In a perfect world, the law would be the law and applied equally. Which would mean that everyone who mishandled classified information would be proscuted equally. But the Democrats don't want that. And the Mueller investigation is uncovering more stuff. Like text messages from FBI counter intelligence people saying they can't let Trump win, and editing text from 'gross negligent' to 'extremely careless', so Peter Strzok and Comey's role in the Clinton campaign. And then for Russian ties, Uranium One, and Bill Clinton's $500k speaking fee and meeting at Putin's home.

So Assange may be able to help with how he came by various Clinton leaks, but still has his bail jumping and Swedish questions to answer.

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Re: He may regret waiting

"years ago" = pre-Trump. Common sense is not just out of the window, it's running down the street as fast as it can and those in charge are denying it was ever there in the first place.

Also, there is no statute of limitations on "causing embarrassment to a powerful government". Caused by non-government actors, of course, not what they do to themselves. (Trump, Bojo etc.)

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Re: He may regret waiting

Do you think Trump is the type of guy to remember these things with people who helped him to the top?

Actually given that he allegedly can't remember the words of the Star Spangled Banner I wouldn't be surprised at all.

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2018/01/09/did-president-trump-forget-the-words-to-the-national-anthem/23328520/

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Re: He may regret waiting

Actually given that he allegedly can't remember the words of the Star Spangled Banner I wouldn't be surprised at all.

It wasn't that he couldn't remember the words, it was that he misremembered one word. Every time he got to the bit about the "Star Spangled Bannon" he felt ill.

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Re: He may regret waiting

"OK, I'm confused. I thought it was generally accepted now that Wikileaks had selectively leaked information to damage the Democrat campaign and and held onto stuff that might have damaged the Trump/Republican campaign. In which case wouldn't they be rather pleased with him?"

To quote Sir Humphrey, "gratitude is merely the lively expectation of favours to come". He's played his part, so throw him to the wolves, might well be their opinion.

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Re: He may regret waiting

OK, I'm confused. I thought it was generally accepted now that Wikileaks had selectively leaked information to damage the Democrat campaign and and held onto stuff that might have damaged the Trump/Republican campaign. In which case wouldn't they be rather pleased with him?

Trump can't remember what opinion he held on his breakfast this morning.

Much less on what Wikileaks may or may not have done during the election campaign. Hell, half his campaign team were gone within a month of taking office.

Milk lasts longer than his politics.

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Re: He may regret waiting

I believe Trump has a reputation for valuing and rewarding loyalty, so it's quite possible he would reciprocate towards someone who provided assistance to him.

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Re: He may regret waiting

Trump may have been grateful to Assange for the help. But then there were allegations of links between Assange and Moscow. Specifically that Wikileaks got the DNC emails from Russian sources.

At which point he stopped being a useful ally, and became an embarrassment. At least if enough people believe those allegations - and there's credit to be had by dumping on him.

So the Trump camp have made a few noises about prosecuting him. But would they really bother? I presume it would need lots of prep work. Unless the Obama administration have already done most/all of it?

Then again is Assange's fear of US extradition a rational reason for his actions, convenient PR to cover his arse, or the product of genuine paranoia from a man who isn't all that mentally stable? Personally I suspect a bit of all 3...

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Re: He may regret waiting

"He's played his part, so throw him to the wolves, might well be their opinion."

...and, Assange is a ferriner, not from Murica - and therefore, fair game.

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Re: He may regret waiting

I believe Trump has a reputation for valuing and rewarding loyalty

Where said value is asymptotically approaching zero?

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Re: He may regret waiting

Trump does value loyalty - to him.

Rewarding it? Eeeehhh... Not so much.

Returning loyalty? Hell no.

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Big Brother

"A third country might offer a new couch"

But he'd still have to get from couch A to couch B, meaning he could be nabbed en route. Although the Ecuadorian embassy is now no longer under 24-hour surveillance by the police.

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Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

Not to mention "a human can't live like that - except if it's someone else's couch, then it's quite alright"...?!? WTF?

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