What Next for Julian Assange? WikiLeaks Founder Extradition Expected 'Within Hours or Days'

Update: According to The Associated Press, a senior Ecuadorian official has countered the claims of a WikiLeaks source, saying that no decision had been made to force Assange out of the London embassy.

Original article: In 2012, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sought asylum in the of Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations.

Since then, he has not stepped out of the building. Now, WikiLeaks claims that Ecuador is soon about to expel the Australian, according to a tweet the organization posted on Thursday, citing a "high-level" source.

"A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within 'hours to days' using the INA Papers offshore scandal as a pretext—and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest," the tweet read.

The INA Papers are a set of documents that have implicated Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno in alleged criminal activity, including corruption and money laundering.

The relationship between Assange and his host country has grown increasingly fractious in recent times—despite the fact that he has been granted Ecuadorian citizenship—and just two days ago, Moreno said Assange had "repeatedly violated" the terms of his asylum, in part, by meddling in political matters, Al Jazeera reported.

The president also noted that Ecuador was seeking an arrangement with the U.K. that would allow Assange to leave the embassy.

While Sweden has since dropped its rape case against Assange, British authorities have said they would still arrest him as soon as he steps out of the embassy because he defied the orders of a U.K. judge and fled extradition, thus violating his bail conditions. U.K. police are on standby 24 hours a day to keep watch over his movements.

Assange has long denied the Swedish sex crimes allegations, arguing that they were politically motivated. He fears that if British authorities arrest him, he could be extradited to the United States where he could potentially face charges in relation to the leaking of sensitive hacked government documents and files from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2010.

But in December 2018, Moreno said the U.K. had assured Assange that, according to British law, he would not be extradited to a country where he could face capital punishment—such as the U.S.—The Associated Press reported.

"The road is clear for Mr. Assange to take the decision to leave," Moreno said at the time, noting that he would not forcefully expel him.

It is conceivable, however, that U.S. prosecutors could provide assurances to the U.K. that Assange would not face the death penalty if he was to face trial, which could enable his extradition.

U.S. prosecutors have brought no formal charges against Assange, but Assange suspects that he faces criminal charges under seal—meaning they have been prepared in secret.

While there has been no official confirmation, in November 2018, an administrative mix-up at the U.S. Justice Department—in which Assange's court filing was apparently submitted in error—indicated that the WikiLeaks founder's suspicions might indeed be true.

In 2011, U.S. authorities opened a grand jury hearing to decide whether to prosecute Assange and WikiLeaks for the release of hundreds of thousands of government secrets, The Guardian reported.

Julian Assange, Ecuadorean embassy, London
Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador on May 19, 2017, in London. Jack Taylor/Getty Images
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