- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Julian Assange’s potentially imminent eviction from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London prompted a fresh plea Wednesday for Australia to intervene and protect the Queensland-born WikiLeaks publisher if the United States seeks his extradition once Quito withdraws support.

Julian is still an Australian citizen and they have an obligation — and I think a duty — to exercise rights of protection over an Australian citizen,” said Jennifer Robinson, a human rights attorney who has represented Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks since 2010. “They could usefully engage in this to help solve the impasse.”

“For me as a fellow Australian citizen, it is disappointing the government has not done more — but that doesn’t preclude them from doing it now and I very much hope that they will,” she told News.com.au, an Australian new site.

Australia “has provided consular support and will continue to do so as is required,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop responded.

“We understand there are still matters where Mr Assange is subject to British legal proceedings so therefore that would be a matter of British law enforcement authorities and agencies,” Ms. Bishop told the news site.

Mr. Assange, 46, entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 while under investigation by the Obama administration over his role running the WikiLeaks website and specifically its publication stolen government material including hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. diplomatic and military documents. He subsequently received asylum that summer from Ecuador’s president at the time, Rafael Correa, but an outstanding European arrest warrant and the risk of being extradited to the U.S. have precluded him from exiting.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, Mr. Correa’s successor, said last week that his government is working with British officials toward brokering Mr. Assange’s exit, saying: “The only thing we want is a guarantee that his life will not be in danger.”

Ms. Robinson said earlier this week that Mr. Assange’s legal team was preparing to represent him in court in anticipation of him being evicted from the embassy at any moment.

The Justice Department has not announced any charges against Mr. Assange, but prosecutors could unseal an indictment and request his extradition if and when he’s apprehended by British authorities.

Eric Holder, the attorney general when the Justice Department began investigating WikiLeaks in 2010, previously said that prosecutors would consider charging Mr. Assange with crimes including espionage, potentially putting the publisher at risk of being executed if convicted.

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