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    Julian Assange, founder of the online leaking platform WikiLeaks, is seen through the eyepeace of a camera as he is displayed on a screen via a live video connection during a press conference on the platform's 10th anniversary on October 4, 2016 in Berlin

    ‘Dangerous Precedent’: Turnover of Assange’s Personal Effects Shows US’ Power

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    Ecuador's move to turn items and documents belonging to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over to the US emphasizes the power that the Trump administration can exert over the famed publisher, activist and comedian Randy Credico told Sputnik.

    "It's completely outrageous," Credico told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Monday of the development. "I don't see the legal basis for that. This was done without any kind of court hearing."

    "How they could turn that stuff over — his personal belongings — to the US, not even to the Brits, but to the US… it just shows you the level of control that the US government, the [US] State Department [and] every other agency has over [Ecuadorian President] Lenin Moreno, who has totally sold out."

    ​In an early Monday press release, WikiLeaks revealed that materials forked over to US officials by Ecuador included "two of [Assange's] manuscripts, as well as his legal papers, medical records and electronic equipment."

    "Neither Julian Assange nor UN officials have been permitted to be present when Ecuadorian officials arrive to Ecuador's embassy in London on Monday morning. The chain of custody has already been broken," reads the release. "The seizure of his belongings violates laws that protect medical and legal confidentiality and press protections."

    It goes on to state that the seizure is formally listed as "International Assistance in Criminal matters 376-2018-WTT requested by the authorities of the United States of America," and that the reference number on the legal documents reveals that Ecuador began cooperating with the US in 2018.

    "This is a very dangerous precedent," Credico told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. "Everything involved with Assange is a dangerous precedent that we should all be alarmed by."

    Assange was arrested on April 11 at the London-based Ecuadorian Embassy after the Ecuadorian government revoked his asylum status. He had been holed up at the building since 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden over a rape case, fearing that from Sweden he would be handed over to the US to be tried for alleged offenses linked to his publication of military intelligence documents that detailed war crimes committed by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Although Swedish officials previously closed their case due to a lack of evidence and Assange's refuge at the embassy, it has since been reopened. Eva-Marie Persson, the deputy director of public prosecutions in Sweden, announced last week that case would be reopened after determining that "there still exist grounds for Julian Assange to be suspected on probable cause of the charge of rape."

    As for Assange's fears of extradition to the US, they too were validated. Following his arrest, the US announced that it had charged the journalist with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, which stemmed from military disclosures he was able to gain through his work with whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

    Assange is set to appear in court for an extradition hearing on May 30, and a second is scheduled for June 12. He is currently serving out a 50-week jail sentence at the HM Prison Belmarsh in London for jumping bail in 2012.

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    Tags:
    extradition, Arrest, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, United States, Ecuador, United Kingdom
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