What’s Going To Happen Once Julian Assange Steps Out Of The Ecuadorian Embassy In London?

by
Fatimah Mazhar
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could come out of sanctuary at last, and face some major legal problems.

Julian Assange

A move that would end a two-year standoff with police authorities, Julian Assange said on Monday that he will soon leave the Embassy of Ecuador in London.

He made the important announcement at a press conference at the embassy in London where he has been living since 2012.

“I am leaving the embassy soon ... but perhaps not for the reasons that Murdoch press and Sky news are saying at the moment," the 43-year-old Australian editor told reporters before refusing to clarify his comments.

Assange, who is responsible for the most extensive information leak in the American history – three quarters of a million secret documents to a website called Wikileaks – faces a possible death penalty on separate charges of rape and molestation committed against two women during a visit to Sweden in August 2010.

Subsequent to his statement that he intends to leave what is clearly his last refuge against police forces, numerous speculations have emerged regarding Assange’s fate once he steps out of the Ecuadorian Embassy.

While arrest remains inevitable – British police officers have been stationed outside the building waiting to take Assange into custody should he exit – following are five possible scenarios the controversial journalist would find himself in.

Extradition to Sweden

On Aug. 20, 2010, Swedish authorities issued an arrest warrant for Assange on two counts, one of rape and one of molestation.

Although the warrant was withdrawn a day later, Swedish prosecutors continued investigations into the molestation allegation.

In September 2010 the rape case was re-opened, and in November 2010 a Swedish court approved a request to detain the WikiLeaks founder for questioning relating to one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation, and one count of rape.

An international arrest warrant was issued relating to those allegations.

Extradition to the U.S.

Assange stated in his Monday press conference that after leaving the embassy he fears being extradited to the United States where he could face a death penalty.

However, high-ranking U.S. law enforcement sources revealed in November 2013 that “there is no sealed indictment or criminal complaint against the WikiLeaks founder, despite rumors that he was under investigation by the Justice Department.”

Taken to a hospital

Assange also said that his health had suffered during his time inside the embassy. British newspapers widely reported that he had developed a heart defect and a chronic lung condition during his confinement.

There is a huge possibility that he may be sent to a hospital under custody in either the U.K. or Sweden.

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Or to the Ecuadorian territory

Foreign Minister for Ecuador Ricardo Patino wrote for The Guardian on Monday, saying his country was more than willing to offer refuge to Assange:

Ecuador renews its commitment to the protection of Assange’s human rights, freedom and life, and we affirm the validity of the asylum given to him two years ago. We also reiterate our request for safe passage to Assange so he can safely travel to Ecuadorian territory,” Patino stated.

Although this situation seems highly unlikely, it cannot be written out as a possible scenario.

Remain in the U.K.

Lastly, it might happen that Assange would not leave the Ecuadorian Embassy. The Ecuadorian government has, on multiple occasions, offered the Swedish authorities their diplomatic headquarters in London to hold a video conference, in order to advance the legal process involving the fugitive journalist.

However, Sweden has never shown any willingness to carry on with such a trial.

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