After Asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy Ends, What Awaits Julian Assange?

Reporters are on standby outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London because President Moreno has decided to end the asylum his country has been granting to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and will turn him over to British authorities. It is unclear exactly when that will happen.

A few days ago Glenn Greenwald went through several scenarios of what might happen next. It is important to keep in mind that he has a fairly lengthy relationship with Assange, especially in that both of them were involved with Edward Snowden. Greenwald published many of the documents Snowden stole and Assange helped him get asylum in Russia.

The first scenario Greenwald identifies is that British authorities could prosecute Assange for “failure to surrender,” or the more significant charge of “contempt of court,” for failure to comply with bail conditions in his attempt to resist extradition to Sweden on rape charges. He could be held in jail, especially for the latter, given his history.

It is in describing the second scenario that Greenwald’s biases overwhelm his analysis. In it, he attempts to describe how the U.S. government will respond. His assumption, based on rhetoric from Sec. of State Pompeo and Attorney General Sessions, is that the Trump administration is chomping at the bit to prosecute Assange and Wikileaks.

There are several problems with that assumption. First of all, it doesn’t take into account that the guy in charge, Donald Trump, loves Wikileaks. To demonstrate, NBC put together this compilation of the 141 times he mentioned Wikileaks in the last month of the 2016 campaign.

The second problem is that Greenwald still can’t admit that it was the Russians who did the hacking.

…nobody has ever presented evidence that WikiLeaks conspired with whoever hacked the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta email inboxes to effectuate that hacking.

That leads to the third problem with Greenwald’s assumption. I doubt very much that the Trump administration has any desire to go anywhere near Julian Assange. He is way too explosive on the question of whether the president’s campaign conspired with the Russians. Here’s why:

  • Julian Assange had several private direct message twitter exchanges with Donald Trump Jr. during the course of the campaign. In analyzing all of those, Martin Longman reached the conclusion that Wikileaks looked like a Russian front organization.
  • Julian Assange also had several private direct message twitter exchanges with Roger Stone, who has admitted that he is the “U.S. person” described in the latest Mueller indictments that communicated regularly with both the Trump campaign and the Russian hackers.
  • Based on the latest Mueller indictments, it is clear that Julian Assange and the Russians coordinated the timing of the release of the DNC emails to coincide with the Democratic Convention in order to sow conflict between Sanders and Clinton supporters.

Due to the web of connections between Assange, Stone, Don Jr., and the Russians, it is clear that the president and his legal team will want to do everything possible to keep Assange out of the U.S. However, it’s a pretty sure bet that the Mueller team will want to talk to Assange. We’ll soon learn how that one goes down.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.