The Assange Complaint Was Filed the Day the UK Rejected Assange’s Diplomatic Status

EDVA has released the affidavit and original complaint charging Julian Assange with conspiring with Chelsea Manning to crack a password. Two things support the likelihood that this extradition request arose in response to Ecuador’s attempt to get Assange diplomatic status that would allow it or Russia to exfiltrate him from London.

As I noted earlier, the extradition warrant itself dates to December 22. But the complaint and supporting affidavit date to December 21, 2017. That’s the day, according to multiple reports, that the British government denied Ecuador’s request to grant Assange “special designation” as a diplomat.

Ecuador last Dec. 19 approved a “special designation in favor of Mr. Julian Assange so that he can carry out functions at the Ecuadorean Embassy in Russia,” according to the letter written to opposition legislator Paola Vintimilla.

“Special designation” refers to the Ecuadorean president’s right to name political allies to a fixed number of diplomatic posts even if they are not career diplomats.

But Britain’s Foreign Office in a Dec. 21 note said it did not accept Assange as a diplomat and that it did not “consider that Mr. Assange enjoys any type of privileges and immunities under the Vienna Convention,” reads the letter, citing a British diplomatic note.

The Guardian (which is less reliable when it pertains to stories about Assange) claims that this effort was meant to support an exfiltration attempt, possibly to Russia.

Russian diplomats held secret talks in London last year with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the UK, the Guardian has learned.

A tentative plan was devised that would have seen the WikiLeaks founder smuggled out of Ecuador’s London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country.

One ultimate destination, multiple sources have said, was Russia, where Assange would not be at risk of extradition to the US. The plan was abandoned after it was deemed too risky.

The operation to extract Assange was provisionally scheduled for Christmas Eve in 2017, one source claimed, and was linked to an unsuccessful attempt by Ecuador to give Assange formal diplomatic status.

The supporting affidavit is notable because it is even more troubling than the indictment itself is for its description of Assange’s work with Manning to publish classified documents.

But it’s also notable for the case it makes that Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy not to hide from the Swedish prosecution but from US prosecution.

Assange has made numerous comments reflecting that he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition and charges in the United States.

For example, in 2013, the WikiLeaks website posted an affidavit by Assange concerning alleged monitoring of his activities and the search and seizure of his property. In the affidavit, Assange acknowledged that he was “granted asylum after a formal assessment by the government of Ecuador in relation to the current and future risks of persecution and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the United States in response to my publishing activities and my political opinion. I remain under the protection of Ecuador in London for this reason.” See

On May 19, 2017, in response to Sweden’s decision to discontinue its investigation regarding suspected rape by Julian Assange, Assange publicly stated, “While today was an important victory and an important vindication … the road is far from over The war, the proper war, is just commencing. The UK has said it will arrest me regardless. Now the United States, CIA Director Pompeo, and the U.S. Attorney General have said that I and other WikiLeaks staff have no rights … we have no first amendment rights.. .and my arrest and the arrest of our other staffis a priority…. The U.K. refuses to confirm or deny at this stage whether a U.S. extradition warrant is already in the U.K. territory. So, this is a dialogue that we want to happen. Similarly, with the United States, while there have been extremely threatening remarks made, I am always happy to engage in a dialogue with the Department of Justice about what has occurred.”

It seems likely that the UK rejected Ecuador’s request, in part, because the US lodged an extradition request, possibly because they learned of the exfiltration plan.

If so, that may change the extradition calculus significantly, even if Sweden refiles its request. The UK may have already agreed that Assange was only ever fleeing US prosecution. Indeed, their decision back in December 2017 may have served precisely to enable the arrest that occurred last Thursday.

If that’s right, there’s little chance the UK will give precedence to Sweden — though Labour within the UK and a number of entities in the EU are fighting this extradition request.

As I’ve noted, this all took place against the background of the Vault 7 prosecution which implicated Assange in far more activities unrelated to journalism, ones that the United States’ Five Eyes partner would likely be very sympathetic to. And that may well be what this indictment was always a placeholder for. Yes, the government may fill in a larger conspiracy in-between 2010 and 2017. But this action seems to have as much to do with what Assange did in 2017 as he was doing in 2010.

Update: Corrected indictment dating to December 22; I meant the extradition warrant.

19 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    One wonders what behind the scenes discussions went on between Vlad and Ecuador regarding the timing to burn Julian as a source.

    Will Sweden re-file the sexual assault charges? Will the UK extradite to the US or to Sweden in that case?

    Many wheels turning here but it seems to me the common thread is that Julian is to be silenced, the question is which jail cell will he land in for the rest of his life? Will Kaiser Quisling pardon Julian for services rendered? It would be remarkable if he did since JA is no longer useful to the Palace on any level outside of silent.

  2. viget says:

    Why do I get the feeling we will see a heading named Julian Assange followed by pages of redacted material in the report on Thursday?

    Slightly OT, but in Marcy’s Twitter stream today, she was noting how the affidavit mentioned the 2010 Wikileaks most wanted list, and then mentioned other reporting about the 2012 Wikileaks Spy Files as a list of targets. Couldn’t help but wonder what companies are on those lists? Was Boeing one of them? I note that Wikileaks has published 737 confidential operations manuals before.

    Things that make you go hmmmm.

  3. e.a.f. says:

    some countries are spending an awful lot of time and money on one guy. Yes, it maybe the guy who ran Wiki, but all the same, its a lot of time and money. don’t know what the agenda is, but it most likely has little to do with what they’re tossing round.

    • bmaz says:

      When we say “Wiki” can we please distinguish between “Wikileaks” and “Wikipedia”? The latter does not deserve to be in the same boat as the former.

    • Greg Hunter says:

      ” its a lot of time and money. don’t know what the agenda is, but it most likely has little to do with what they’re tossing round.”

      For me, this reminds me of the Elian Gonzalez story….What was the agenda?

  4. Colonel Alexsay Potemkin says:

    Look, I know factual impossibility is not an insuperable barrier to proving a conspiracy, but this is ridiculous!

    Q. Good afternoon, Agent Shaver?

    A. Good afternoon, sir.

    Q. Now, you just testified that the hash value that was included in the chat was not the full hash value?

    A. That is correct.

    Q. So in order for a person to actually gain access to the passwords contained in the SAM, they would have needed more of the hash file?

    A. Yes, sir. Remember — I mentioned the system file, you would need that part as well.

    Q. Okay. So the hash value included in the chat wouldn’t be enough to actually gain any passwords or user information?

    1 A. Correct.

  5. CD54 says:

    I acknowledge and defer to EW’s Assange qualifications, as well as her stature, and gravitas re: Press Freedom. But I respectfully object to anybody and everybody who doesn’t vehemently excoriate Assange’s bad faith, dirty hands, self-dealing, and self-contamination. Those parts of the critical “and yet” evaluation, in my mind, are irreconcilable and irrecoverable for any honest actor. Period.

    P.S. This goes double for Glen Greenwald.

    • viget says:

      I feel somewhat the same, if less vehemently so. It seems to me as if WL is basically a hacking contractor for Russia and other affiliated nation states and/or criminal organizations. Now, this may not be a willful arrangement (at least not at first), but the Vault7 leaks and the attempted blackmail by Assange, make me think that currently, he knows who his paymasters are and is complicit.

      • P J Evans says:

        Assange made it really clear that he wanted Clinton to lose, and that he likes Putin. How people can think he’s disinterested or honest, after 2016, baffles me.

        • Willis Warren says:

          it’s possible that Russia is making him wealthy with bitcoin or giving him tons of hacks in exchange for his going easy on Putin.

          Putin would seem to be a target for much more negative press, considering he’s stolen half of Russia

          • Silence Hand says:

            Yes, the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.

            Of course, it could be that people in a position to unveil internal communications of Putin’s corrupt cadre are generally afraid of getting a pitchfork in the chest, so to speak.

    • Silence Hand says:

      It’s something of a delicate baby / bathwater problem. How does one separate a central hero/villain figure from the enterprise they’re part of? When is it worth it to even do that? WL may, at this point, be so polluted by Assange’s megalomania that it’s irredeemable. Essentially, an object lesson in getting co-opted as an information warfare tool. I’d be more cautious about Greenwald, although it seems to me he suffers from similar self-glorifying impulses. Sees himself as Glen of Arc, I suppose.

      Vehement excoriation can be the tails side of the cult-of-personality coin, which of course has gauzy adulation on heads. Best, I think, to be a bit more clinical in assessing enterprises.

  6. paz2now says:

    Did I misunderstand Mr Assange’s plea to the US govt,
    a while back, before the Ecuadoran govt silenced him, to be brought to the US to testify?
    (Maybe this was a twitter joke?)

  7. bmaz says:

    Eh, I dunno. I have always maintained that Sweden would be as good of, if not a superior, place to fight US extradition. Couple that with the fact that when Assange bail jumped into Ecuadoran arms, there were no US charges that could have served as basis for US extradition. There seems little question that he was absconding from the Swedish rape allegations at the time because those were the only allegations he could abscond from. The rest is typical Assange horseshit.

    • Jockobadger says:

      I read the same thing, I thought, but nothing so far. Most likely just BS for consumption by the GG’s of the world.

  8. Kelly Duke says:

    I am not sure what to make of Julian Assange, Barret Brown, Daniel Ellsburg, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Glenn Greenwald, and Reality Winner personally.

    However, I do know that the actual overriding issue in all of this is the increasing criminalization (with the eager assent of both major US political parties) of those who, like almost all of us here, try our best to expose rather than commit and conceal crime. I have to believe that you all agree with me on this. Right?

    • Rayne says:

      Nobody here has to agree with you in part or whole. Let’s get that straight.

      I personally don’t support persons who prod ‘sources’ to commit illegal acts, fail to adequately protect their ‘sources’ using reasonable means and methods, and who comingle blackmail with what they cast as journalism.

      Welcome to emptywheel.

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