Stuck on an Embassy in London

Assange standing on a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London and holding a microphone in his hand.
Media have gathered in front of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, which is guarded by the British police.
Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a German technology activist who left the WikiLeaks organization in 2010.
An American embassy.

In 2010, Julian Assange was catapulted to worldwide fame through publications by WikiLeaks of materials that severely incriminated the United States. Not only was the Collateral Murder video going viral, over 250 000 dispatches from U.S. embassies were disclosed and heavily debated.

Embarrassing the United States

The embassy cables published by WikiLeaks, among many other things, revealed that U.S. officials had been instructed to spy on leadership figures in the UN. They also revealed that Arab leaders privately had encouraged the U.S. to take military action against Iran and that American diplomats had called the French president “authoritarian” and the German chancellorrarely creative”. Needless to say, the disclosures made great waves and became very embarrassing for the U.S. government.

Accusations and negative headlines

Due to WikiLeaks’ exposures, which many people considered righteous and important, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were fast gaining both glory and momentum. Soon, however, as Assange was journeying in Scandinavia, he would make headline news in a negative way.

While on a visit to Sweden, in 2010, a few months after the Collateral Murder video had been released, two Swedish women accused the famous Australian of rape and sexual molestation. Assange publically dismissed the allegations as a smear campaign, and while he was still free to leave Sweden, traveled to London. Swedish authorities later requested his presence, and Assange, from his new United Kingdom domicile, said that he was willing to turn himself over to the Swedish justice system if they could guarantee that he would not be extradited to the United States, a country where Assange could possibly be tried in court and be sentenced to death. No guarantees were given, and consequently Assange stayed in the United Kingdom.

The Ecuadorian embassy

Following Assange refusal to follow court orders and show up in Sweden, in 2012, the British police received orders to arrest the WikiLeaks founder. Assange, still wary of an extradition to the United States, in order to escape arrest, now sought refuge on the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the police were not allowed to enter. Subsequently, here, Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador, and to avoid any future arrest, Assange made the Ecuadorian embassy his home.

Continued uncertainty

The Swedish criminal investigation into Assange’s alleged sexual crimes was dropped in 2017, and following a change of government in Ecuador, Assange’s asylum was withdrawn by Ecuador in early 2019. At the same time, in 2019, the British police was invited into the Ecuadorian embassy to arrest Assange for breaching bail in 2012, and the world-renowned Aussie is currently serving fifty weeks in British prison for the bail-related offense. Whether or not he will thereafter be extradition to the United States, or possibly to Sweden, remains to be seen, but clearly he has already suffered considerably. The reason for this is that Assange’s physical and mental health has degraded after almost seven years of not stepping out of the Ecuadorian embassy, and his chances of working with WikiLeaks via the Internet, since 2018, have been impeded. Even so, Assange continues to have pockets of strong support around the world, and WikiLeaks itself is still operating.