Supporters of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and media crews gathered outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Friday, after the whistleblowing website Wikileaks tweeted that Assange was due to be kicked out of the building.
WikiLeaks late Thursday tweeted: "A high level source within the
Ecuadorian state has told WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be
expelled within 'hours to days' using the #INAPapers offshore scandal
as a pretext - and that it already has an agreement with the UK for
Ecuador, however, distanced itself from WikiLeaks' assertion that
Assange risks being kicked out imminently.
"The government will not comment on the current unfounded rumours,
which are also insulting. Ecuador makes its decisions in a sovereign
and independent way," Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said on Twitter.
He added that a government has the sovereign right to "unilaterally
grant or recall" diplomatic asylum if it so decides.
The tweets briefly disappeared from his feed, but re-appeared.
According to an explanatory note they were mistakenly deleted.
Assange's supporters hung banners on a fence outside the embassy
building; one read "Free Assange." Two supporters wearing so-called
Anonymous masks also briefly held up a placard with the text "Free
Julan Assange" at the entrance to the building where the embassy is
Assange's legal team meanwhile voiced concern, saying: "Expelling
Julian Assange would be illegal, violate international refugee law
and be an attack on the UN which has repeatedly called for Assange to
be able to walk free," the Press Association reported.
The INA papers mentioned by WikiLeaks are a collection of documents
leaked to an Ecuadorian lawmaker and which have implicated President
Lenin Moreno in a corruption scandal.
Earlier this week, Moreno accused Assange of repeatedly violating the
terms of his asylum and said Quito was seeking an arrangement with
Britain to allow him to leave the embassy.
Ecuador also suspects that WikiLeaks is responsible for sharing
private photographs of Moreno on social media recently.
Assange has been holed up in the embassy since 2012 to avoid arrest
and extradition to Sweden on allegations of rape.
The Swedish judiciary has since dropped its investigation, but
British authorities have said they will still arrest the Australian
when he leaves the embassy because he violated his bail conditions by
Assange says he fears being extradited to the United States where he
could face charges relating to the publication of hacked government
documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Stockholm daily Svenska Dagbladet reported on Friday that Assange has
requested compensation from the Swedish state for his legal costs in
Sweden, totalling about 9 million kronor (969,000 dollars). The claim
has been filed to the Supreme Court after two lower courts rejected
Christine Assange, Assange's mother, wrote on Twitter on Friday, "The
US is making its move to grab my son Julian!"
In late 2017, Assange was granted Ecuadorian citizenship.
His relations with his embassy hosts have been deteriorating for the
past year, with Ecuador last year cutting off his internet.
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange display banners and placards as they gather outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, AFP