Julian Assange Ecuadorian embassy, tense as he may face eviction.
Ecuador says reports it could soon expel WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from its London embassy are “unfounded rumours”, as a friend who had been visiting the Australian said things inside were extremely tense.
“It is tense because he is expecting to be thrown out at any minute,” Vaughan Smith told media on Friday afternoon after exiting the embassy. “He perceives, and he’s right, the Americans have an extradition going on… and so if he is evicted from the embassy, he’ll be taken in the hands of the British police to await an extradition by America.”
Smith said his visit had been arranged before the current situation arose.
Although they had not discussed it fully, Smith said Assange believed he was being blamed for the INA Papers because he used to be the editor of WikiLeaks, despite not having been in direct contact with the organisation in a while and having had no internet access since last year.
He described Assange as being very stressed over the situation but that he was broadly healthy and his mental state was “stable”.
But Assange wanted to stay where he was.
“His fear is he’ll be evicted from the embassy and then face extradition to America for potentially a life imprisonment,” Smith said.
Supporters of Assange have gathered outside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London after fears were raised that the WikiLeaks founder was about to be expelled.
The anti-secrecy organisation said its sources in Ecuador had revealed Mr Assange could be removed from the building “within hours to days”.
Yesterday, WikiLeaks tweeted that its founder would be turfed out of the embassy in London where he has lived for more than six years.
It is understood the source was regarded as credible by WikiLeaks. Ecuador’s foreign ministry released a statement saying it “doesn’t comment on rumours, theories or conjectures that don’t have any documented backing”, but a senior Ecuadorean official said no decision had been made.
Britain’s foreign secretary said Assange is a “free man” and can leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London whenever he chooses.
Jeremy Hunt said Assange “can leave that embassy whenever he wants to, so we want the situation resolved as quickly as possible.”
Assange hasn’t left the embassy since August 2012.