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Julian Assange Dodges Eviction After Ecuador Election

UN Panel Rules That Wikileaks Founder Is Arbitrarily DetainedUN Panel Rules That Wikileaks Founder Is Arbitrarily Detained
Wikileaks founder Julian AssangeCarl Court—Getty Images

The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is one of the beneficiaries of a Presidential election in Ecuador on Sunday, where results show leftist Lenin Moreno is poised to eke out a narrow victory.

The election outcome is important for Assange because Ecuador is sheltering him in its embassy in London. The South American country’s offer of sanctuary has allowed Assange to avoid facing rape allegations in Sweden, and possible extradition to the United States, which is investigating him for publishing classified security secrets.

This arrangement, however, has been in jeopardy since the conservative candidate in the election, Guillermo Lasso, vowed to evict Assange from the embassy within 30 days if he won the vote. But as of Monday morning, Moreno reportedly held a 51-49 percent lead, and appeared headed to victory even as Lasso’s supporters took to the streets to complain of fraud.

In response to Lasso’s apparent victory, Assange took to Twitter to taunt the conservative candidate, suggesting he should leave Ecuador:

The outcome means Assange is poised to remain holed up for the foreseeable future in London, where he continues to publish sensitive documents through the Wikileaks operation.

Wikileaks continues to be a thorn in the side of the U.S. intelligence community, releasing sensitive documents related to surveillance methods by the FBI and NSA, and criticizing the country’s political leaders.

Meanwhile, Assange himself has come under growing suspicion that he has been acting as an agent of the Russian government, including by releasing emails damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign during the U.S. Presidential election.

As for the rape accusations, Swedish prosecutors are still seeking to execute a warrant for Assange’s arrest, which could lead to formal criminal charges.

Sweden brought the allegations in 2010, accusing Assange of crimes related to sexual assault. Prosecutors had to drop two of the more minor charges in August of 2015, however, after a statute of limitations had expired. But they have until 2020 to bring criminal charges on the more serious allegation of rape.