WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has appointed its former spokesman, Icelandic journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson, to replace him as editor-in-chief.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, who has been named Iceland's journalist of the year several times, has worked extensively with WikiLeaks. He took part in the Collateral Murder publishing collaboration, served as the spokesperson of the NGO from 2010 until 2016, and has overseen several legal projects for the organization since then.
In his statement, quoted by WikiLeaks, Hrafnsson condemned the silencing of Julian Assange that had facilitated his career move.
“But I welcome the responsibility to secure the continuation of the important work based on WikiLeaks ideas,” his statement reads.
Assange, whom the US wants extradited for publishing classified information about its actions during the Iraqi war, has been living as a fugitive in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012. He was granted asylum there sidestep extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault and further possible persecution in the US. Although the sexual assault charges were later dropped, Assange is still unable to leave for fear of being detained by UK authorities.
Since the former Ecuadorian President, who let Assange stay in the Embassy in the first place, was replaced by Lenin Moreno, the terms of Assange’s stay have been tightened. This year, after a series of public comments, the whistleblower was forbidden from using social media, granting interviews, or communicating with anybody but his legal team.
Moreno has touched upon the issue of expelling Assange from the embassy several times, but has also noted that the UK must first guarantee the activist's safety. On September 26, he revealed that Ecuador and the UK are working on legal grounds to let Assange leave the Embassy in "the medium term."
His recent statements followed conflicting media reports that Ecuador might revoke Assange's asylum and that the whistleblower might leave voluntarily due to his worsening health.