The US Department of Justice is preparing to prosecute WikiLeaksfounder Julian Assange and believes it has a high probability of being able toextradite him to the country, familiar sources with the matter told the WallStreet Journal.
US prosecutors have been discussing in the last year various typesof charges that could be filed against Assange, who is in the embassy ofEcuador in London since that Latin American country granted him politicalasylum in 2012.
Although the sources of the American media did not want to reveal whether they had been negotiating with the Government of the United Kingdom or that of Ecuador, they pointed out that several recent events have encouraged them.
Assange’s relationship with the Ecuadorian government hasdeteriorated since the election of last year of President Lenin Moreno, whodescribed him as “a rock in the shoe” and noted that his continuedpresence in the embassy is unsustainable.
An indictment by US special prosecutor Robert Mueller, whopresented Wikileaks as one of the tools used by Russian intelligence to publishthousands of pirated Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidentialcampaign has complicated Assange’s defense as a mere journalist.
The exact charges that the Department of Justice could present against Assange are still unknown, but could include the Espionage Law, which criminalizes the publication of information related to national defense.
In an interview last week, the head of the national security division of the US Department of Justice, John Demers, declined to answer questions about the possibility of trying Assange.
“I’m just going to say ‘we’ll see,'” he said.
Assange has recently clashed with the Embassy of Ecuador in London on several issues, including Internet access and people who come to visit, and the Australian came to denounce the Ecuadorian Government for the conditions of their confinement.
Last month, in a trial in which a judge rejected these accusations, Assange himself said he expected Ecuador to force his exit from the embassy shortly.
Meanwhile, one of his lawyers, Barry Pollack, said he had not received information about the possible legal process.
“We have not heard anything from the authorities suggestingan impending judicial process against Assange. Accusing someone for publishingtrue information would set a terrible and dangerous precedent, “Pollacktold the Wall Street Journal.
For its part, the US has not made any public comment on whether ithas submitted any extradition request against the founder of Wikileaks or if heintends to do so. (I)