It looks like Ecuador will betray Julian Assange. It is being reported his political asylum may be revoked and the WikiLeaks founder handed over to British and then American authorities.
Speculation follows remarks by Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa. Last Wednesday she said the Ecuadorian government and Britain “have the intention and the interest that this be resolved,” a resolution that very well may result in either a life sentence or an execution in the United States.
The latest developments follow Ecuador’s decision to deprive Assange of of all contact with the outside world.
Ecuador announces that @JulianAssange remains incommunicado and that his fate is being negotiated with the UK. Although after US pressure, Ecuador has banned visitors (inc. press) & phone, apparently as a PR strategy only a "social media" ban is mentioned. https://t.co/gnnFTjvxnU
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 10, 2018
The South American country said “Assange’s behavior, through his messages on social media, put at risk good relations this country has with the UK, the rest of the EU and other nations.”
In other words, the US leaned heavily on Ecuador to force it to hand over Assange so he can face “justice” for the crime of revealing the depth of criminality and corruption of the United States, including killing journalists in Iraq and exposing how the political system rigs elections.
Assange will be dealt with harshly if he ends up in the United States. Last year Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said putting Assange on trial for “espionage” is a “priority.”
Then CIA director and now secretary of state Mike Pompeo characterized WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service” and Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, suggested launching a cyber attack against WikiLeaks as practice for the US military and its cyber security apparatus.
“Why can’t we act forcefully against WikiLeaks?” asked Bill Kristol, a leading neocon, in 2010. “Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are? Why can’t we disrupt and destroy WikiLeaks in both cyberspace and physical space, to the extent possible? Why can’t we warn others of repercussions from assisting this criminal enterprise hostile to the United States?”
Sarah Palin said the US should pursue Assange like it does leaders of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Palin, who was John McCain’s running mate in 2008, said Assange is an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands.”
The former Alaskan governor has since changed her tune. During a recent MAGA Coalition event, she told alt-righter Jack Posobiec Assange “is trying to provide people with information so that we can make better decisions for our own lives for the community, for our country, for the world and I really appreciate him more. I appreciate him so much I actually probably apologize to him for calling him out” after WikiLeaks posted a few of her emails.
Sarah Palin praises WikiLeak's Julian Assange; 'He's all about freedom' https://t.co/l9SnwJ5TnO
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) May 11, 2018
Other are less forgiving.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton strategist Bob Beckel told Fox News “a dead man can’t leak stuff,” and said the “guy’s a traitor, a treasonist (sic), and … and he has broken every law in the United States. The guy ought to be—and I’m not for the death penalty—so, if I’m not for the death penalty, there’s only one way to do it, illegally shoot the son of a bitch.”
Hillary Clinton asked: “Can’t we just drone this guy?” She proposed destroying WikiLeaks with a drone strike.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 3, 2016
Although the DNC leaks were useful for the Trump campaign and Donald Trump himself favored exonerating the Australian whistleblower, his current administration wants Assange sent to the United States to face trial, prison, or possible execution.
“‘As a candidate, Trump tweeted: ‘Very little pick-up by dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks.’ The president mentioned WikiLeaks 164 times during the last month of the election and gushed: ‘I love WikiLeaks,’” Assange wrote in a Washington Post article.
Although we do not know what Trump thinks of Assange now that the election is over, we do know that his lawyers made the case for preemptively pardoning Julian Assange in a motion to dismiss a WikiLeaks-related lawsuit by Democrats against the Trump campaign. Preemptive pardons are rare.
Prior to Pompeo taking over the State Department, spokesperson Heather Nauert said the US supports freedom of the press, an oblique reference to Assange and WikiLeaks.
.@statedeptspox: We support a freedom of the press. When a nation clamps down on social media, we ask the question — what are you afraid of? We support the people of #Iran, and we support their voices being heard. pic.twitter.com/4dG4FlWTMJ
— Department of State (@StateDept) January 2, 2018
Political pressure to extradite Assange and try him for espionage—especially now that Mike Pompeo is running the show at the State Department—may overshadow any concerns about the First Amendment, especially with the current atmosphere of government moving to exclude “fake news” from social media.
The state is eager to use the case—and a high visibility show trial followed an execution—as an example for present and future whistleblowers.