Published: Sat, September 22, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Russia Hatched Plan To Help Assange Escape London Last Year

Russia Hatched Plan To Help Assange Escape London Last Year

Last year, Ecuador attempted to deputize WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as one of its own diplomats and send him to Russian Federation, according to a Friday report by Reuters.

Mr. Assange, 47, was granted asylum by Ecuador within weeks of seeking refuge in its London embassy more than six years ago, though an outstanding arrest warrant issued by United Kingdom authorities and the related risk of being extradited overseas have kept him from exiting ever since.

Ecuador in 2017 gave Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a diplomatic post in Russian Federation but rescinded it after Britain refused to give him diplomatic immunity, according to an Ecuadorean government document seen by Reuters.

People close to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange held private meetings with Russian officials past year to discuss a potential plan to help Assange escape the Ecuadorian embassy in London and flee to another country, The Guardian reported Friday.

"Special designation" refers to the Ecuadorean president's right to name political allies to a fixed number of diplomatic posts even if they are not career diplomats. However, under English law, the 47 year-old can only enjoy diplomatic privileges, such as immunity, only if his credentials are accepted by the Foreign Office.

"The Guardian" has now claimed that Russian officials were involved in a "basic" plan to extract the Wikileaks founder from the embassy on Christmas Eve past year and fly him to Russia.

"The plan was abandoned after it was deemed too risky", the Guardian alleged. "He's an Ecuadorian living in the London embassy and we're paying for this?"

The Associated Press reported earlier in the week that newly-leaked documents showed that Assange sought a Russian visa back in 2010.

Details emerged about the incident through a letter from the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry to a legislator. "It is worth noting that attempts to picture Ecuadorian diplomats' meetings at the Russian embassy in the light of conspiracy theories do not stand up to criticism", the ministry stressed. "Russia is always happy to welcome worldwide guests if they arrive in a lawful manner and with good intentions".

One tentative plan involved smuggling Mr. Assange out of the embassy in a diplomatic vehicle on Christmas Eve and transporting him to another country, possibly Russian Federation, where he stood a lesser risk of being extradited to the USA and tried on charges related to his WikiLeaks website, The Guardian reported. Ecuador granted Assange citizenship last December.

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