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  • After five years holed up in the U.K.

    After five years holed up in the U.K.'s Ecuadorean Embassy, Assange and his mediators are seeking ways to secure his safe departure. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 January 2018

Lawyers for Julian Assange believe the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the Netherlands, may hold the key to securing the WikiLeaks founder's freedom.

Julian Assange and his team of lawyers are requesting a British court to drop an arrest warrant issued for the WikiLeaks founder in 2012 on the grounds that the charges have been dropped and the warrant has "lost its purpose."

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Sexual abuse allegations from the Swedish government were among several accusations levelled at Assange after a series of leaks provided by former U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning, then known as Bradley, came to international attention in 2010 after being published on the website.

As a result, Assange has spent the past five and a half years holed up in London's Ecuadorean embassy, which earlier this month granted him Ecuadorean citizenship.

However, the allegations have since been dropped, and both the Crown Prosecution Service and Assange's defense lawyer Gareth Pierce say the controversial computer programmer now stands a good chance of winning his case and walking away a free man.

U.K. government officials have so far refused to recognize Assange's new status, and his team has been strategizing ways to secure his safe departure from London.

Authorities have indicated that in the event Assange attempts to leave the embassy grounds, he runs the risk of immediate arrest for violating bail conditions and could face a prison sentence of up to three months, potentially paving the way for the United States to extradite him in retaliation for publishing state secrets.

 

A source close to Assange has said his lawyers believe the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the Netherlands, may hold the key to securing his freedom.

Attorneys say that if the diplomatic status awarded Assange by Ecuador is recognized and confirmed by international law, the British Foreign Office would have no choice but to facilitate his safe departure from the country, Reuters reports.

So far, both the United Kingdom and Ecuador's foreign ministries have remained tightlipped: the former saying only that their foreign minister, currently traveling in Chile, is privy to the case and thus authorized to discuss it.

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Assange Granted Ecuador Citizenship to Secure 'Human Rights'

In a television interview on Sunday, Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said his foreign ministry was continuing to seek mediation. "We hope to have a short-term solution to this issue, which has really caused us problems," he said.

According to a former associate of Assange, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is continuing its own investigations in an effort to map out the relationship between Manning and the WikiLeaks founder.

WikiLeaks co-founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg told Reuters he was contacted in November by investigators from the BKA, Germany's equivalent of the FBI, to answer questions provided by the FBI.

Domscheit-Berg said representatives of a BKA cybercrime and espionage squad were seeking information about how actively Assange had been involved in persuading Manning to divulge U.S. state secrets, but insisted he had no interest in helping the FBI.


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