Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson told the Grapevine that today’s arrest of Julian Assange violates both international law and “moral decency”. He says Wikileaks is ready to fight his extradition to the United States.
In a brief phone interview this morning, Kristinn told the Grapevine that Assange’s arrest did not catch them off guard.
“We have been expecting this for some time now,” he said. “This has been fully known and didn’t come as a surprise.”
Indeed, Wikileaks tweeted on April 4 that they had been tipped off by a “high level source within the Ecuadorian state” that Assange would be expelled “within hours to days”, and that Ecuador already had an agreement with the UK for his arrest.
While sources speaking to the media have contended that Assange had repeatedly violated the terms of his asylum agreement within the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Kristinn dismissed these allegations as completely unsubstantiated.
“There is no such agreement,” he told the Grapevine. “It’s bogus. You don’t just decide impose terms for asylum years after the fact. This is a violation of international laws and norms, and flies in the face of moral decency.”
Kristinn also confirmed for the Grapevine that the US Department of Justice had filed an extradition request with UK authorities in December 2018. US authorities are seeking to prosecute him for conspiring with Chelsea Manning to publicise documentation pertaining to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010—that this arrest “has nothing to do with the 2016 elections.”
As such, Wikileaks will fight Assange’s extradition to the US, but the clock is ticking; US authorities, especially in a high-profile case such as this, will likely act as quickly as possible to get Assange out of the UK.
In a feature interview with the Grapevine, Kristinn emphasised that both Assange and Manning “need a lot of support”, and that their prosecution is a part of a growing movement by authoritarians against whistleblowers and journalists.
“There’s a silencing epidemic going on that is part of what I’m referring to as neo-McCarthyism,” he told us at the time. “The war on journalism will probably escalate somewhat further. I don’t really expect the mainstream journalism community to see the danger that is looming and why it is absolutely necessary to wake up now and support Julian Assange, Wikileaks and Chelsea Manning. Things will probably get worse before they get better. But I try to be an optimist. It did take some years for the mainstream media to come to terms with the fact that we had been lied to about the reasons for the invasion of Iraq.”
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