A lawyer for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has rejected Ecuador’s offer for the publisher to leave the London embassy under the guarantee that he won’t face the death penalty, leaving open potential criminal persecution.
“The suggestion that as long as the death penalty is off the table, Mr. Assange need not fear persecution is obviously wrong,” Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack, told the Telegraph while commenting on the deal with the UK announced by the Ecuador President Lenin Moreno on Thursday.
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UK has provided ‘guarantees’ Assange won’t be extradited to face death penalty – Ecuador’s president
The agreement envisages certain safeguards for Assange that he won’t face the death penalty if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London, which has sheltered the famous fugitive since 2012.
Moreno said that Ecuador had received written assurances from the UK that Assange will not be extradited to any country where he might be put to death. Moreno, who has repeatedly indicated that he would like to get rid of Assange, whom he called “more than a nuisance,” said the deal struck with the UK is “a path” for Assange to “exit into near freedom.”
Moreno however, did not elaborate on how “near” that freedom would be, considering Assange is still sought in the UK on bail violation charges dating back to 2012. The UK authorities reportedly told Ecuador that the maximum sentence for the minor offence will not exceed six months.
Being spared from capital punishment does not mean that Assange is safe from getting extradited and going on trial in the US for releasing troves of US diplomatic cables – something Pollack is not OK with.
“No one should have to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information,” the lawyer told the Telegraph.
Assange exposed some 750,000 of classified military documents provided by whistleblower Chelsea Manning. The documents shed light on the abuse and indiscriminate killings by US soldiers, among other revealing information about US military practices.
It was recently revealed that Assange has already been charged in the US.