Julian Assange. (Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg)

Ecuador to Expel Assange Within ‘Hours to Days,’ WikiLeaks Says

(Bloomberg) -- Ecuador plans to expel WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from its London embassy and has an agreement in place with the U.K. for his arrest, WikiLeaks said citing a source within the Ecuadorian government.

“A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within ‘hours to days’,” WikiLeaks said on Twitter.

Ecuador’s government did not respond to calls made after office hours, but the Associated Press reported that no decision has yet been made, citing an unidentified government official. Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer for Assange, declined to immediately comment.

The WikiLeaks founder sought the protection of Ecuador in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced rape allegations, or the U.S., where he could be punished for publishing secret government documents. Swedish prosecutors have since dropped the charges against Assange but he failed in an attempt last year to have the U.K. arrest warrant against him dropped.

U.S. prosecutors in court filings last year may have inadvertently revealed that Assange has been charged in America. In an unrelated case, federal prosecutors in Virginia, said that “no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.”

The U.K. has said Assange, who is wanted for skipping bail, will be arrested when he leaves the embassy. If the U.S. puts in an extradition request, a London court will review the matter in a process that could last months.

WikiLeaks cited the unidentified person as saying the planned expulsion is a response to the organization’s recent tweet linking to a website that alleged money laundering and corruption during Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno’s time as United Nations special envoy for the disabled in Geneva. Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said last month that the government was “very surprised” by that and other actions by Assange and his lawyers.

Ecuador to Expel Assange Within ‘Hours to Days,’ WikiLeaks Says

The website in question also linked to emails and phone screen captures tying Moreno to the corruption scandal. Moreno, speaking in a nationwide broadcast Feb. 27, denied any wrongdoing.

Ecuador last year introduced rules governing Assange’s life in its London embassy. The protocol, which warned that it could expel him if he should violate its terms, addressed public statements that could damage the host government. Assange, who was granted asylum by Ecuador in 2012, lost local and international legal challenges against the protocol.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.