Ecuador’s ‘purely political decision on Assange’ is likely result of ‘US pressure’
Ecuador has confirmed that whistleblower Julian Assange will eventually have to leave the country's embassy in London.
The Ecuadorian leader Lenin Moreno, who is reportedly in discussions with British officials over a deal to hand the Australian over to police, said at an event in Madrid on Friday that Assange’s departure “should come about through dialogue”.
RT: What do you think this announcement tells us about Ecuador's intentions?
Patrick Henningsen: Unfortunately, this is potentially going to set a dangerous precedent in the sense that when a country grants somebody asylum in the way that Assange was granted asylum years ago under a different president, that a new president will come in and somehow change that. There is no new evidence to incriminate Assange that would change the scope of his case. You can only translate this as being a purely political decision. And if you look back and drill down to the politics, most likely this is the US pressure being put to bear on the current government of Ecuador. That is clearly what is happening. It is US politics projecting and exerting itself internationally - in this case on Ecuador – getting them to reverse a policy that should be an international norm. In other words, once the country grants somebody asylum on some kind of basis and some judgment is made, I do believe Julian Assange has been issued an Ecuadorian passport, so he does have rights as a citizen in that country. And all of a sudden, that has just evaporated now because of a political whim or pressure put to bear.
RT: We don’t know what sort of deal is being talked about between the Ecuadorian and the British authorities, for example, who still want Assange because he skipped bail…How could we be making assumptions here if we don’t quite know what is going on?
PH: If he is given up by Ecuador and so has to face the music with regards to contempt charges that he has in British justice system, this is not necessarily a bad thing for Assange. Certainly, this government does have issues outstanding with the US government. Julian Assange, whether this government gives him up or not, as that becomes a bargaining chip theoretically in the background as definitely [there’s] some tension between the US and Britain on certain issues currently. And this is a president in Washington that likes to make deals. But further than that, Julian Assange himself has quite a bit of leverage with regards to the US. And his knowledge of the DNC leaks or DNC hacks whichever way you want to translate that, he does have intimate knowledge of that. And that could be enough knowledge to perhaps plea or bargain his way to freedom, should he be extradited to the US. So, this is potentially an interesting point down the road.
This is one of the biggest disappointments for me personally because many of us had great hopes that Lenin Moreno would be the one person who could stand up to the UK and the US governments. That seems to have changed a couple of months ago when Moreno approached the US about enhancing trade ties and selling more Ecuadorian goods in the US. I think that was probably a quid pro quo that in exchange for these enhanced trade ties, the Ecuadorians will have to expel Julian. - John Kiriakou, former CIA analyst, whistleblower
RT: Why do you think the UN's ruling that Assange should be allowed to go free is being ignored by the UK and US?
PH: Because I don’t think the US and the UK governments recognize that UN report or it doesn’t take any precedent over their realpolitik, in other words. In the same way, the UK government doesn’t necessarily recognize the independence of the fourth estate. I think it was made clear that GCHQ marched into the Guardian’s offices in Islington in the summer of 2013 and stood by as the Guardian editors took angle grinders and cut out the Snowden leak hard drives right in front of them…Likewise, in the US. I don’t think this government in the US respects WikiLeaks’ status as a publisher. And it is a very dangerous precedent because if they do go to reclassify, redefine what is press, what is a publisher, if WikiLeaks falls in that respect, there is no protection for any press after that…
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