Moscow 'planned to help Julian Assange flee'

Moscow 'planned to help Julian Assange flee'

A bold plot that would have seen Wikileaks founder Julian Assange smuggled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London to Russian Federation in 2017 has been revealed.

As Reuters reported, the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office told Ecuador on December 21, 2017 that it would not accept Assange as a diplomat.

Citing an "Ecuadorian government document", which the news agency did not publish, Assange apparently was briefly granted a "special designation" to act as one of its diplomats, a privilege normally granted to the president for political allies.

The persona of Julian Assange has become a thorn in Ecuador's president Lenin Moreno's side and, ever since assuming office in May of past year, Moreno has made every effort to make sure the Australian's stay at Ecuador's embassy in London comes to an end as soon as possible.

Ecuador last 19 December approved a "special designation in favour of Mr Julian Assange so that he can carry out functions at the Ecuadorean Embassy in Russian Federation", according to the letter written to opposition legislator Paola Vintimilla.

One tentative plan involved smuggling Mr. Assange out of the embassy in a diplomatic vehicle on Christmas Eve and transporting him to another country, possibly Russian Federation, where he stood a lesser risk of being extradited to the US and tried on charges related to his WikiLeaks website, The Guardian reported.

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The Russian embassy in London called the article a clear example of "disinformation and fake news by British media", while the Foreign Ministry also rejected the report. Ecuador could have given Mr. Assange diplomatic documents, and he could have then been picked up from the embassy by Russians and taken away in diplomatic vehicle, the report said.

Assange sought asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questions about allegations of sex crimes, accusations that were later dropped.

"The Guardian" has now claimed that Russian officials were involved in a "basic" plan to extract the Wikileaks founder from the embassy on Christmas Eve past year and fly him to Russia.

Citing at least four, traditionally anonymous, sources, the Guardian wrote that Moscow was plotting to smuggle Assange out of London on Christmas eve a year ago, but dropped the plan because it was "deemed too risky".

Last December, Ecuador granted Julian Assange the necessary security clearances to work in their embassy in Russian Federation. However, earlier in the day, WikiLeaks categorically denied that Assange's proposed diplomatic status had anything to do with Russian Federation.

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