18:18 GMT14 April 2021
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    If he wins on Sunday, the lead opposition candidate in Ecuador’s presidential election has vowed to immediately remove Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange from the country’s embassy in London.

    Guillermo Lasso, a former banker, is running against former Vice President Lenin Moreno, who is expected to take the lead in the first round of the election on Sunday, but is predicted to fall short of winning by a large enough margin to avoid a second round in April. Analysts expect Lasso to fare better in the runoff.

    Lasso, a right-wing candidate, would be a sharp departure from the leftist politics that have been in place throughout most of South America for the past decade.

    As his first order of business, should he win the presidency and take office in May, Lasso has vowed to remove Assange from the embassy, thereby forcing the publisher’s extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over an alleged rape.

    The rape allegation comes from Assange sleeping with two women in Sweden, separately, but during the same month. During one of the encounters, a condom reportedly broke. When the two women learned that he had slept with both of them, they went to the police to have him compelled to take an HIV test.

    “Once they were at the police station and told their stories, the female police commissioner informed them that this all fell within ‘rape’ law, and soon thereafter—that Mr. Assange was going to be arrested. Ms. Ardin and Ms. Wilen were upset when they heard this,” the Observer reported in a detailed explanation of the rape case documents.

    Many groups, including the Women Against Rape (WAR) organization, have long contended that the allegations are false, and simply an effort to get Assange into Sweden, where he would likely be extradited to the United States.

    “We oppose the use of rape for political agendas which undermine protection and justice for both rape victim and accused. We are appalled that rape allegations may be manipulated to facilitate Mr Assange’s extradition or even rendition to the US where elected officials have called for his execution for his Wikileaks activities. How can anyone ignore this threat? WAR cannot. We oppose the death penalty for any crime, let alone when no charges have been brought,” Women Against Rape wrote on their website in 2011. The organization has an entire section of their website dedicated to what they assert is the political persecution of Assange.

    Now, Ecuadorian presidential candidate Lasso has made Assange’s ouster a central point of his campaign, and has vowed to have him removed from the embassy within 30 days of his inauguration.

    “Ecuador had no business spending a single cent protecting someone who definitely leaked confidential information,” Lasso said during an interview on Thursday afternoon. “I will take on the responsibility of inviting Mr. Assange to leave the Ecuadorean embassy at the latest 30 days after the start of our government.”

    Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy on June 19, 2012, and applied for political asylum, which was granted. Since that time, the building has been encircled by police waiting to arrest him and extradite him to Sweden. Stockholm has not ruled out handing the publisher over to the United States.

    Lasso has also vowed to take a firm stance against Venezuela, ironically demanding that they release their political prisoners, including Leopoldo Lopez.


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