Leading US House Democrat demands that Ecuador’s president “hand over” Julian Assange
18 October 2018
The US is increasing its pressure on Ecuador to evict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from its London embassy, where he took political asylum in June 2012. He would then be arrested immediately by British police and subjected to extradition proceedings to face trumped-up espionage charges in the US that could see him jailed for life or even executed.
On Wednesday, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee sent a threatening letter to Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno insisting that he “hand over” Assange to the “proper authorities” as a precondition for improving relations with the United States.
In a bipartisan letter, Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, and former Foreign Relations Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, declared: “We are very concerned with Julian Assange’s continued presence at your embassy in London and his receipt of Ecuadorian citizenship last year.”
Engel’s role makes even more explicit the leading part being played by the Democrats in the drive to lock away Assange for good and silence WikiLeaks itself. In June, on the eve of a visit to Ecuador by Vice President Mike Pence, 10 Democratic Party senators called on the Trump administration to demand that the Ecuadorian government renege on the political asylum it provided Assange six years ago.
Written in bullying and contemptuous language, the Engel-Ros-Lehtinen letter warns that any further “significant progress” and “warming” in Washington’s relationship with Moreno’s government on a “wide range of issues,” including “economic cooperation” and financial aid, depends on Ecuador…