Officials hopeful indictment could spur Ecuador to turn him over
By Aruna Viswanatha & Ryan Dube
November 16, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - The Justice Department is preparing to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and is increasingly optimistic it will be able to get him into a U.S. courtroom, according to people in Washington familiar with the matter.
Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against Assange, the people said. Assange has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since receiving political asylum from the South American country in 2012.
The people familiar with the case wouldn’t describe whether discussions were under way with the U.K. or Ecuador about Assange, but said they were encouraged by recent developments. Ecuador’s relationship with Assange has deteriorated sharply since last year’s election of President Lenin Moreno, who has described him as a “stone in our shoe” and said his continued presence at the embassy is unsustainable.
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An indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller that portrayed WikiLeaks as a tool of Russian intelligence for releasing thousands of hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign has made it more difficult for Assange to mount a defense as a journalist. Public opinion of Assange in the U.S. has dropped since the campaign. Prosecutors have considered publicly indicting Assange to try to trigger his removal from the embassy, the people said, because a detailed explanation of the evidence against Assange could give Ecuadorean authorities a reason to turn him over.