Julian Assange kicked out of embassy for leaking photo of president eating a lobster in bed, claims report
Assange was evicted from the embassy on April 11 after more than seven years of stay, and the question is why now?
Julian Assange was surprisingly expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last week, where he had stayed for the past seven years after the country granted him asylum in 2012, and was arrested by officers from Scotland Yard on charges of breaching his bail agreement from December 2010. Now, reports claim he was removed because he was responsible for leaking embarrassing emails and pictures of Ecuador's president, Lenin Moreno.
According to the Daily Mail, Moreno was of the belief that WikiLeaks — the whistleblowing website that Assange founded in 2006 — was responsible for the leak of more than 200 private emails, text messages, and photographs belonging to the president and his wife this past February.
The documents, which were leaked to a website called INApapers.org, controversially featured snaps of Moreno and his family enjoying themselves during lavish vacations in Europe. It was something that did not go down well with Ecuadorians considering he was responsible for imposing severe austerity measures on the country in December 2018 which saw a $700 million budget cut via slashing gas subsidies and government workers' salaries.
While one would assume this was the proverbial pie in the face which prompted Moreno to evict Assange, reports say a leaked picture of the president enjoying lobster in his bed at a luxury hotel was the straw that broke the camel's back. That photo is now practically all over the internet.
Moreno had directly accused Assange of leaking the documents, though it was an allegation that the WikiLeaks founder vehemently denied. Nonetheless, after Assange was dragged out of the embassy on April 11 and led away in handcuffs after his asylum was withdrawn because of a "series of disputes", Moreno told reporters he did not have a right to "hack private phones".
WikiLeaks hit back with a statement of their own, accusing Ecuador of withdrawing Assange's asylum without due cause. "In short, the [Ecuadorian] government seeks a false pretext to end the asylum and protection of Julian Assange," a statement on their website read.
It now remains to be seen whether Assange will be extradited to the United States, where he is wanted for publishing a series of damaging leaks provided by Chelsea Manning, or to Sweden, where he was previously wanted over allegations of sexual assault and rape.
The decision will be made by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who said that "all options are on the table". A home office source reiterated the same to the Mail, stating Javid was "calmly establishing what Home Office policy levers are at his disposal to make sure that Mr. Assange faces justice, which he believes is absolutely essential."
His father, John Shipton, however, feels Assange should be extradited to his home country of Australia to face justice. The Guardian reported that Shipton called on Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to take action. "It can be resolved simply to the satisfaction of all. There has been some talk in a meeting between a senator and a senior DFAT official to extradite Julian to Australia," he said.