Julian Assange decides to leave the Ecuadorian embassy for ‘health reasons’


At the end of the day, I still can’t decide if “hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy in London” was a stroke of genius or the stupidest move ever for Julian Assange. I guess it was a little bit of both. It was stupid because Assange looked like he was avoiding extradition to a country that wanted to investigate him for sexual assault, thus enabling people to label him and dismiss him as a “rapist.” It was a genius move because Julian has become even more famous and vocal in his self-imposed exile, publishing more than ever and chiming in on many international free-speech and free-press issues. But now it’s looking like this whole ordeal might be coming to a close. Or, I should say, one part of it is coming to a close. Assange has announced that he will be leaving the embassy “soon.”

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has suggested he will be leaving London’s Ecuadorean embassy “soon”. He said he understood from Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson he would be “leaving the embassy” after two years’ refuge but gave no more details. Mr Hrafnsson later said the plan “as always” was for Mr Assange to depart when the UK “calls off the siege” and honours international “obligations”.

Mr Assange is wanted for questioning over alleged sexual assaults in Sweden. The 43-year-old faces questioning by prosecutors in Stockholm over claims made by two women in 2010. He denies the allegations and sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in June 2012 shortly after a court ordered his extradition. Police have maintained a round-the-clock presence outside the building in Knightsbridge.

Speaking at the news conference, Mr Assange said: “I understand that Kristinn Hrafnsson has said that he can confirm I am leaving the embassy soon”.

But he added it was not for the reasons reported in the UK press that he required medical treatment. Mr Assange says he fears he could eventually be handed over to the US because Wikileaks published classified US military documents on the Afghan and Iraq wars. He was granted asylum by Ecuador in August 2012 and the country’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino said he would continue to be offered “protection”.

Sitting next to Mr Patino at a news conference, Mr Assange said his health had suffered during his time inside the embassy. The UK newspaper reports at the weekend said Mr Assange had developed a heart defect and a chronic lung condition during his confinement. The Australian said the reasons for him leaving were not those “reported by the Murdoch press” – but did not elaborate further.

If he does leave the embassy, Mr Assange faces immediate arrest and extradition to Sweden. Extradition could take place within 10 days of any arrest – unless there are compelling reasons for this to be extended. BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said that if Mr Assange needs medical treatment he could be arrested and then taken to hospital under guard.

[From BBC]

That’s interesting about his health. The BBC’s legal analysts say that it’s perfectly possible that as soon as Assange walks out of the embassy, he’ll be arrested, handed over to Swedish authorities, and then the Swedes might let him see a doctor (in Sweden). After that… God knows. I have no idea whether the American government would jump in at this point. The Assange is a genius/stupid conundrum of sitting in an embassy for two years has also allowed the American government to sit back with clean hands. There is no American arrest warrant, no grand jury convened, no special prosecutor for the Assange/Wikileaks case. Assange has always maintained that under the Patriot Act, a secret court and secret warrants could be obtained, but personally… I don’t think the American officials care that much about Assange anymore. But they would love to get their hands on Edward Snowden.

PS… Maybe he wants to leave the embassy so he can go to his lawyer’s wedding in Como? Would Amal Alamuddin invite Julian Assange to her wedding?


Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

50 Responses to “Julian Assange decides to leave the Ecuadorian embassy for ‘health reasons’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Renee says:

    I always thought that he was a lot older than 43.

    • Eames says:

      Thanks for the completely unenlightened comment about his case, political revelations, etc. Focus on some banal aspect of his appearance because that’s what really counts.

      • FLORC says:

        Whoa Eames. Good job keeping the censors going here. No one state opinions about JA that are about anything other than the legal side of this story.

        Julian would not approve!

        Me too. Although i’m sure the stress or health issues has aged him some.

      • Eames says:

        @ FLORC: It’s called CeleBITCHY, FLORC, so snark is allowed.

        As for the censoring, no, I’m not doing that. I’m all for people having opinions, but have something interesting or engaging to say/write. Renee’s comment focussed on the the same stupid things that the popular/hard media used to pass judgement on Assange – He dyes his hair; hence, he is a weirdo. *Yawn* This is completely unimportant in regards to the leaks, his case, etc.

      • mimif says:

        He does kind of look like he was rolled in flour. *runs and hides*

    • BlueIris says:

      He’s kinda hot.

  2. CandyKay says:

    He’s probably upset that Snowden has stolen his spotlight. Snowden got a huge, fawning cover story in Wired magazine this week that describes him as a national hero. I’m sure Assange misses that kind of approval.

    • Anna says:

      @CandyKay I agree, I feel like he might miss the notoriety of it all since Snowden kind of “stole his thunder” . Plus he isn’t seen as much of a hero anymore because of the alleged sexual assault.
      I can’t wait to see what happens when he leaves the embassy

    • Eames says:

      You are aware that Assange helped Snowden get to Russia, right?

  3. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I hope he has to face the sexual assault charges, and I think it’s wrong of the Ecuadorean government to harbor a violent criminal.

    • Maria says:

      so you dont believe in “innocent until proven guilty”? or why do you call him a violent criminal?

      if you have followed the coverage of the Snowden leaks you know that the CIA and NSA have special “Defamation Deparments” (google “Snowden Reveals NSA Tactics For Defaming Targets”) whose job it is to smear people and ruin their repuation with lies. thats what american tax money is used for. so i have a hard time believing that they didnt in this case.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        You’re absolutely right, I should have said “alleged.” But I don’t think countries should protect potentially violent criminals from prosecution.

    • The Wizz says:

      They haven’t even laid charges, they wanted him extradited for “questioning.”

      Why on earth couldn’t they question him in the UK like they do with plenty of others and then lay charges and extradite him if it is found that it is warranted?

      • mimif says:

        There are some good comments on this article that discuss what you are questioning.


      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        According to what I’ve read, there was an arrest warrant for him in Sweden for 3 counts of rape. He requested a permit work visa for Sweden, and appealed the warrant. His request for a visa was denied, and the warrant was upheld, but charges were reduced to two counts of sexual molestation. He was informed that his arrest was imminent, and he fled the country. England was asked to extradite him, and they agreed. He appealed the extradition decision, and was either unsuccessful in the appeal or in getting a hearing. I’m not sure which. He sought and was granted refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. So he is wanted for arrest, not questioning. I just don’t get why a country would grant him refuge.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        To mimif,
        So he should get away with rape because the British government might have ulterior motives for wanting him prosecuted and hasn’t handled rape charges well in their own country (according to this article)? So these women who wrote the article have decided that it’s not “real” justice for his rape victims? The writers of this article are more politically biased and motivated than the people they are accusing could ever be. They have decided without giving these women a day in court that either the accusations aren’t true, or it doesn’t matter whether they are true because there might be political motives for wanting him arrested and they think he’s a hero for releasing classifieds documents. If I’m ever raped, I hope these women aren’t “on my side.”

      • The Wizz says:

        Mimi thanks for the link. My main take from that is that yes Assange at this point is wanted for questioning, but as they feel like it is likely to lead immediately to charging him they don’t want to do it/it is against their protocol and he has already been “surrendered” by the UK. I’m sure having a suspect hiding out in an embassy is against standard process also so why they wouldn’t mould their process to try and get some movement in the case is beyond me? Even if it’s just to garner public support that they are trying to resolve the situation.

      • The Wizz says:

        GoodNamesAllTaken : this is my understanding of the pre embassy Assange case. Worth the 46 minutes to watch.


      • mimif says:

        @Goodnames, I posted the link in response to The Wizz for the comments in the article as to why he couldn’t be questioned in the UK, as I mentioned in my original post. Buuuut since you asked, no I don’t think he (anyone) should get away with rape. I also don’t think he raped anyone. *runs and hides*

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        @mimif, don’t need to run and hide from me for having an opinion about it, if that’s what you mean. So you think the charges by two different women are made up? Why? I’m not arguing, just curious.

        The Wizz – will watch, thank you, but according several sources, charges have already been filed and the warrant was upheld by a Swedish judge. Could be wrong, of course, one was Wikipedia.

      • The Wizz says:

        GoodNames check the comments at the bottom of the link mimif posted, I think it explains what stage the courts are at with him (the first comment) If of course commenters are to be believed!

    • Jaded says:

      He’s not a violent criminal – both sexual encounters were consensual. The women found out that both had slept with him during a conference, and only then did they decide to press charges. Sweden has very weird and murky laws governing “sex by surprise” in that during one of the sexual encounters his condom fell off but they proceeded to finish the act. She insists she said “no” when she realized the condom was no longer in place, but it’s her word against his and despite the fact that the other woman willingly had sex with him, they decided, perhaps out of anger that he would have the audacity to sleep with them both, that they would press rape charges. The allegations would not hold water in the U.S.

      • rbarrington says:

        What a bunch of bullshit. So much misinformation about this online. No, Sweden does not have weird or murky laws. It’s very simple, don’t force sex with anyone, and you’ll be fine. It’s not a conspiracy either. Assange decided that it was a good idea to force sex with a sleeping woman, and not to use a condom with another one, even though she requested it. The British court ruled that the first instance would have been considered rape under British legislation also, just like in Sweden. He is a creep and a coward for doing what he did and hiding in that embassy.

      • SuePerb says:

        That is not true rbarrington. The girl who was sleeping had consensual sex with him the night before and when she woke he was inside her but she said she couldn’t be bothered to tell him to stop and put a condom on. It is in her statement so she allowed him to continue. That is not rape. They also had numerous consensual sexual encounters after too. The other woman said he purposefully broke the condom yet NO DNA was ever found on the condom. That is pretty strange isn’t it? Nothing, not her DNA or his DNA, which suggests this was not the condom used. Why would she bring in a condom that he didn’t use? Also for a “rape” she was tweeting “Sit outside at 2 and hardly freezing with the world’s coolest smartest people, it’s amazing!” referring to being with Julian Assange at the party she threw for him 2 days later. Someone that is “raped” does not think the “rapist” is the world’s coolest and smartest

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Just to clarify, I did a little more research, and I misunderstood Swedish law. When I read that a warrant had been filed for his arrest, and upheld by a higher court, I assumed charges had been filed and he was wanted for more than questioning. I was wrong. That’s apparently not how it works there. Sorry.

      • Sixer says:

        GNAT – just to note that from a civil liberties point of view, the Assange case has some very wide-ranging implications for every citizen in every country (all the EU, which is a great many people) signed up to the European Arrest Warrant scheme, which was billed as a nice little efficiency but is turning into something entirely different – and often worrying.

        I don’t think it matters whether or not this would hold up as a rape case in the US, the UK or anywhere else – if it holds up as an offence in Sweden, and Assange did it, then he should face the penalty. FOR THAT CASE. But it’s not alarmist to say that the way the European Arrest Warrant is being administered is in danger of turning it into rendition-by-stealth and every European citizen should be afraid of that. Including Assange’s accusers. Or no-one will be safe. Horrible though it is to say when sexual abuse is a factor, there is a bigger picture here.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Thanks, Sixer. After reading a little more, I see what your concerns might be.

      • mimif says:

        Awesome post, Sixer.

    • tessy says:

      I read about that charge and it sounded really bogus. Have you ever noticed that as soon as somebody takes on a government they are discredited in some way like a sex charge to shift public opinion.

      And it works.

  4. mika says:

    Congratulations, Assange, you got a headline. Enjoy the attention, we know it’s all you want.

    Also, I hope Amal has more respect for her female guests than to invite someone charged with two counts of sexual assault to her wedding.

    • Maria says:

      so just being charged now means that a person is guilty?

    • The Wizz says:

      He hasn’t been charged with sexual assault at all! He’s wanted for questioning. Check your facts!

    • Jaded says:

      Mika, he did not commit rape. he had consensual sex with two women at a conference. They subsequently found out that he had slept with them both and only then did they decide to press charges. Sweden has a weird law called “sex by surprise”. During one of the sexual encounters, the surprise was that his condom fell off but they continued having sex. She asserts that when she discovered the condom was no longer in place she said “no” but he finished the act. So you see it’s not cut and dried “rape” – please make an educated opinion based on fact, not on conjecture. The “sex by surprise” allegations would not hold water in the U.S.

      • Daisy says:

        Jaded, you keep saying, ‘The “sex by surprise” allegations would not hold water in the U.S.’ That doesn’t matter. The alleged actions took place in Sweden, and hence they are governed by Swedish law. Whether or not it would be a crime in the U.S. has no bearing here.

        I have been in a consensual sexual situation with a guy where he attempted to avoid using a condom after I’d clearly stated it wasn’t optional. I stopped him, but having your wishes disregarded during sex is not a good feeling. I support Sweden’s law.

        As for the specific case against Assange, I think it’s best dealt with in a Swedish court, not in the media.

      • SuePerb says:

        As you said, you stopped him. The other woman didn’t she said she couldn’t be bothered and let him continue according to her statement

  5. K says:

    The U.S government does not like whistle blowers (understatement) so yes, they very much still want to get their hands on him.

    • Algernon says:

      Except they got the whistleblower in this case: Chelsea Manning. As far as the US is concerned, Assange was more akin to a publisher than a whistleblower. I’m sure someone somewhere would love to get their hands on him, but as a whole, I don’t think the US gov’t cares much about him because Manning was the actual source and they’ve dealt with her. It’s like with Snowden, I think they care more about him violating classified clauses in his work contract than anything. They can’t let that go or else it would become a free for all.

  6. Belle Epoch says:

    Bad timing for the wedding. One if Amal’s creepy clients is coming out of the woodwork NOW? Will George’s PR game suffer? Will she have to do some actual work? Yes I know everyone says lawyers and barristers can get their work done anywhere. I still don’t think she’s working much at all – if at all.

  7. Maria says:

    they are still interested in him. they need to punish him to scare of other whistleblowers.
    The Obama administration relentlessly punishes the people who reveal the crimes of the government like no other govnerment before. the person who leaked the video of american soldiers shooting journalists for fun got a lot higher punishment than the soldiers who killed civilians. thats very telling.

    even the New York Times called Obama “the greatest threat to press freedom in a generation.”

    for the rape allegations: there are deparments in the CIA and NSA whose job it is to smear people and create false evidence to ruin their reputations. like in the McCarthy era.

    • Pinky says:

      ‘The Murdoch Press.” That’s gold. I’m gonna steal that!

    • Bridget says:

      “In a generation” implies that he’s the biggest threat to press freedom… since the last president. Because we all know how open and transparent the Bush Administration was.

    • jwoolman says:

      You must be very young if you think the current US Administration is unusually aggressive going after those who reveal governmental crimes. They are actually relatively benign compared to other Administrations we’ve had during my lifetime. But every government is likely to do this. Citizens have to remain vigilant and stop trying to bully their neighbors into shutting up when not everybody agrees that the government is always right. The real test of free speech is when you actually 1) oppose the status quo and 2) show signs of actually succeeding. Any tyrant is pleased as punch to have people praise the government and go along with every damn fool thing it does. And as someone else noted, a common tactic is to frame dissidents – and rape is commonly used against males. The idea is to neutralize the dissident since even if the charges don’t stick, many naive people assume that such charges wouldn’t be made if they weren’t true. The CIA has done this abroad and the FBI as well as local police departments have done it here in the US. The record is so awful that it’s not surprising that the charges have raised some skepticism. I don’t know the truth in this case, but I know too many details of such things from very reliable personal sources to not consider the possibility that it is a frame.

      • SamiHami says:

        Actually, that’s not true. This particular administration has been far more obstructive and hostile to their “enemies” than any previous administration. And as much I wish I were very young, I’m not.

        Regardless, you make some excellent points, Jwoolman. We have a great deal of freedom in the US, but we have to be vigilant and protect it ourselves-the government will not do it for us.

  8. DanaG says:

    Amal can’t be that good at her job afterall she was hired to STOP him being extradited guess the wedding and whole George Clooney lovefest are her real priority these days and probably will afterwards too. She still has plenty of war criminals and tyrants to work with I can’t see her giving up all the low lifes or she would have no one left to work for. I think Julian is a little peeved at Snowdon for getting all the attention maybe he chose a better place to hang out. Assange needs to answer for whatever he has or prove he hasn’t done it I think it will be funny if after all this the US aren’t interested in him at all he will be disappointed.

    • Sixer says:

      Ama-whatsit isn’t an important lawyer on the Assange case. She’s just a junior. He was represented by Geoffrey Robertson QC – one of Britain’s most prominent lawyers. It surrounds the administration of the European Arrest Warrant and it isn’t straightforward as a) the EAW is a newish thing and there isn’t much case law and b) the UK’s take-up of it has changed even since it was implemented and will possibly change again. The case is precedent-making. It’s not a case of being “good” or “bad” at the job, it’s a case of laying down precedent for a new security form, and even if it was a case of being “good” or “bad”, it would not reflect on Ama-whatsist’s abilities at all.

      In short: if you’re going to reduce some very important issues that affect all of us to bitching about a woman who’s going to marry a celebrity – make the bitch about her not being a big part of the case: at least that would be accurate.

  9. Greata says:

    At this point there is such a mixture of fact, myth, maligning, and posturing surrounding Assange. All sides seem to have some measure of dirt on their hands. I feel I have to wait for the truth to emerge before I pass judgement.

  10. Fan says:

    He did not rape according to the report I read sometime ago. He is being accused of not using protection. This is against the law in his country.