Sputnik has discussed the possibility of Ecuador expelling Assange from its London embassy in “days or hours” with Vaughan Smith, a friend of Assange.
Sputnik: Are you surprised by the news that Assange's expulsion from the Ecuadorian embassy could be imminent?
But it's not completely clear to us whether the Ecuadorians are indeed pushing him out, we don't know that yet, it's hard to know.
Sputnik: So would you agree with Wikileaks' assessment that accusing Julian of being responsible for the leak of the INA papers is simply a pretext for ousting him from the embassy?
Vaughan Smith: That is what Wikileaks are suggesting, but I think it's important to understand that Julian is in that embassy, he has not internet connection, his visitations are severely restricted, and so he's not really in a position to be running something like Wikileaks and indeed, further to that, he has indeed formally handed over control to somebody else.
He's not allowed to speak to journalists or make statements, they've got what's called a gagging order on him so he's really not in a position to run Wikileaks so I don't think he's got any responsibility for what what Wikileaks are doing at the moment.
Sputnik: Is Julian's arrest by UK authorities and extradition to the US therefore inevitable?
So that would obviously give plenty time for the Americans and enable the Americans, having got him out of the Ecuadorian embassy, to go for an extradition. I think it's also important to realise that the current extradition legislation between Britain and America is pretty loose and I think the British public would agree that criminals — murderers, rapists, bank robbers — should of course be sent for extradition. But do we really want to just give people up on the basis that they've been telling the uncomfortable truth that other people don't like? I think that's extremely slippery and shaky.
Sputnik: What would this mean for press freedom and freedom of speech going forward?
This isn't about the Muller enquiry as people thought it was, this is about the same extradition process that was initiated 7-8 years ago in relation to the Afghan war logs and the diplomatic cables. So it really is something that is historical and has been going there, and Julian was right, he kept saying this is why he had gone to the embassy in the first place, to seek and gain asylum, and it turns out he had proper justification for doing so.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of Vaughan Smith and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.