- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2018

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange was labeled a “miserable little worm” on Tuesday by a British politician pushing for him to leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

“It’s of great regret that Julian Assange remains in the Ecuador Embassy,” Alan Duncan, a junior U.K. foreign affairs minister, said during a question-and-answer session, Reuters reported.

“It’s about time that this miserable little worm walked out of the embassy and gave himself up to British justice,” Mr. Duncan said of Mr. Assange, Reuters said.

Mr. Assange, 46, addressed the minister’s remarks from his personal Twitter account later Tuesday.

“As a political prisoner detained without charge for 8 years, in violation of 2 UN rulings, I suppose I must be ‘miserable”; yet nothing wrong with being a ‘little’ person although I’m rather tall; and better a ‘worm’, a healthy creature that invigorates the soil, than a snake,” Mr. Assange tweeted.

Mr. Assange entered the Ecuadorean Embassy in 2012 and received political asylum from Quito that summer. He’s remained on the premises ever since, however, amid fears he’ll be arrested by British authorities and extradited to the U.S. where he risks being charged in connection with his WikiLeaks website over its publication of classified government and military documents.

Mr. Assange had been wanted for questioning by Swedish authorities over allegations of rape and was under house arrest when he sought asylum from Ecuador in 2012. Sweden dropped its probe into Mr. Assange in 2017, but British authorities argue he should be arrested upon exiting since he breached his bail conditions by entering the embassy. A U.K. judge ruled last month that it remains in the interests of justice to pursue his apprehension.

The U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into WikiLeaks and its staff after the website began publishing classified U.S. State and Defense Department documents in 2010. More recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that arresting Mr. Assange is a top “priority” for federal prosecutors.

A United Nations working group has categorized Mr. Assange’s living situation inside the embassy as arbitrary detention.

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