After being cooped up for six years inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the Department of Justice is finally closing in on Julian Assange, and the government of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno is doing everything in its power to evict its most infamous tenant. To wit, lawyers for Assange have been refused entry to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, WikiLeaks announced in a tweet, which has only helped to spur fears that Assange will soon be evicted. And what’s worse, he’s being denied access to legal counsel at a time of desperate need.
WikiLeaks said the Ecuadorian government refused to allow Assange’s lawyers, Aitor Martinez and Jen Robinson, to meet with their client this week, which is a huge problem for the whistleblower, because Assange is facing a US court hearing Tuesday, and needs to meet with his legal team to prepare.
BREAKING: Ecuador’s government has refused Julian Assange’s lawyers [UK lawyer @suigenerisjen & Spanish lawyer Aitor Martínez] access to him this weekend (although the embassy is manned 24/7) to prepare for his US court hearing on Tuesday.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 24, 2018
The hearing is being called to remove the secrecy order on the charges against Assange (which were only publicly revealed because of a copy and paste error).
“The hearing is on Tuesday in the national security court complex at Alexandria, Virginia,” WikiLeaks tweeted, adding it is to “remove the secrecy order on the US charges against him.”
Visitors to Assange were only recently readmitted after being cut off by the Ecuadorian government. The government also restored Assange’s communications in October. But this was accompanied by restrictions on Assange’s communications.
In another sign that Moreno is preparing to oust Assange, the Ecuadorian government recently terminated the credentials of Ecuador’s London ambassador Abad Ortiz without explanation. As Wikileaks explained:
“Now all diplomats known to Assange have now been transferred away from the embassy.”
Assange has been living in the embassy since June 2012 after seeking protection from Swedish prosecutors who had been trying to arrest him on sex crime charges. Those have since been dropped, but Assange has long feared extradition to the US over Wikileaks’ publication of thousands of government cables leaked by Chelsea Manning.
While the left has largely cheered Assange’s misfortune, journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi have spoken out in his defense, and warned about the dangerous precedent that Assange’s prosecution could set for all journalists.
I have to keep repeating this: reporters regularly publish stolen, hacked, or illegally-obtained material. They often provide logistical or emotional support to sources in possession of such material. Calling such relationships conspiracy for WL would criminalize it for others. https://t.co/95L0ZolXGn
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) November 23, 2018