Sputnik discussed this with Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
Sputnik: How likely is it the Julian Assange will be extradited by the Ecuadorian government?
Peter Tatchell: I'm afraid to say that we simply don't know, all we do know for certain is the Ecuadorian authorities have been turning the screw on Julian Assange with the special protocols that have restricted his freedom of expression and his ability to communicate with the outside world and to receive visitors.
All this looks like a deliberate attempt to make life so inhospitable and so difficult for Julian Assange that he will voluntarily leave the Embassy and of course this latest speculation which is really all it is, but I guess it's got some basis, there is some kind of an agreement being drawn up by Ecuador, UK and the US to get him out of the Embassy and to possibly extradite him to the US.
Now, this would be a very big turn around by the Ecuadorian's because they have granted him not only citizenship but also asylum, and so therefore to hand over someone who has been given asylum to a foreign power that is a very big, extraordinary and I think morally questionable step.
Sputnik: What's your take on his mentality and his particular stance, does he just want to see it through to the death, so to speak, in remaining in the Ecuadorian Embassy?
Peter Tatchell: Certainly we do you know that Julian Assange is very determined to resist extradition to the United States, he doesn't want to leave the Embassy unless he can be given safe passage to Ecuador which is what we would expect given that he has legitimately claimed political asylum.
The conditions being imposed upon him by the British in terms of not recognizing his legitimate asylum status that is pretty extraordinary and we also know that the United States several years ago began convening a secret grand jury with a view of slapping Julian Assange with very, very serious charges which are likely to put him in prison for 30, 40 or 50 years.
Sputnik: Have you actually spoken to Julian Assange recently Peter? And if so what is his state of mind?
Peter Tatchell: No I haven't because his visitor regime has been severely restricted, the Ecuadorians are only allowing very, very few visitors and even though his visitors that do go and understand that the Ecuadorians will reserve the right to seize any property they're caring and to hand it over to Britain and the United States.
These conditions are very, very extreme and, as you say, I know others that have been in contact with him recently, that Julian‘s mental and physical health is very much in jeopardy. Even prisoners in a maximum-security jail have more freedom and freedom of movement than Julian Assange has had in that Embassy. Whatever you think about Julian Assange and things he may have done or said or accusations against him, it take someone of considerable courage to endure all these years of being holed up in the Embassy.
Sputnik: What options does Assange have to avoid extradition to the US? Julian Assange is a citizen of Australia, why hasn't that country taken his case into their hands and done more?
Peter Tatchell: We don't know, we can speculate, Australian government is center-right, it's quiet well aligned with the US administration, it has a tradition of following US policy, conceding US requests, so I would be very, very surprised if Australian kicked up a fuss because they haven't in all these years and the British government the same, you would think the British government would recognize its own obligations under the refugee convention to acknowledge that Assange has been granted asylum by Ecuador and therefore grant him safe passage to their country, but I'm afraid the British, for whatever reason, are just ain't doing it.
Sputnik: Just give us some commonsense approach, what would you like to be seen to be done by the British administration, for example?
Peter Tatchell: The British government is totally consumed by Brexit and everything else is just gone to the wall, but even if there wasn't Brexit I think it's pretty clear that the British government has indicated that it's not going to seek a compromise. Now my view is we have to ask ourselves is it in the public interest here in Britain for Assange to be pursued in this way, is it really in the public interest?
I would've expected there to be some kind of deal where Assange would face legal action for having skipped bail because when he went to the Embassy he did skip bail, he has a price to pay, but it should be a fine or maybe a very short term of imprisonment that's the maximum but the deal could be agreed and should be agreed, then of course Britain should allow him safe passage to Ecuador, but all our attempts to try to influence the British government to take that line have met with brick walls. The British government is really lining up with the Americans and I fear for Julian's state.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.