- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Nearly six years since seeking asylum inside its London embassy, WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has made “more than a nuisance” for the current government of Ecuador, according to President Lenin Moreno.

Mr. Moreno, Ecuador’s leader since May, made the remark during an interview with television networks over the weekend while describing the ongoing, international impasse involving Mr. Assange, Agence France-Presse reported Monday.

Mr. Assange received asylum in 2012 from Mr. Moreno’s predecessor, Rafael Correa, but has remained confined to its London embassy ever since in lieu of facing arrest upon exiting — a situation described as “arbitrary detention” by a United Nations working group, and an “inherited problem” for the current administration in Quito, AFP quoted Mr. Moreno as saying.

“We hope to have a positive result” on the issue, Mr. Moreno told Ecuadorean media Sunday, AFP reported.

Mr. Assange, an Australian native, entered the Ecuadorean embassy to avoid being sent to Sweden where he was wanted in connection with a sexual assault investigation. Swedish prosecutors ended that investigation in 2017, but British authorities said they would arrest Mr. Assange if he leaves the embassy because he breached bail conditions by entering it in the first place.

WikiLeaks became the subject of a Department of Justice probe after it began publishing classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010. The Obama administration neglected to unseal charges against Mr. Assange, but President Trump’s attorney general said the current Justice Department has made arresting the WikiLeaks chief a “priority,” raising concerns he could be apprehended upon exiting the embassy and eventually extradited to the U.S. and convicted.

Ecuador naturalized Mr. Assange last month, but Britain rejected a bid to grant him diplomatic status — a maneuver that may have opened the door for his safe exit from the embassy had U.K. agreed.

“This would have been a good result, unfortunately, things did not turn out as the foreign ministry planned and so the problem still exists,” Mr. Moreno said Sunday, AFP reported.

Mr. Moreno said Ecuador remains seeking mediation with “important people” regarding Mr. Assange’s future, the report said.

Mr. Assange did not respond to a request for comment.


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