Pence urged to press Ecuador on Assange

US Vice President Mike Pence has been urged by Senate Democrats to press Ecuador's government over the asylum it grants to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Julian Assange

Julian Assange could be kicked out of the Ecuadorean embassy. Source: AAP

Democrats in the US Senate have urged Vice President Mike Pence to press Ecuador's government over asylum it grants to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Senator Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and nine other Democratic senators said in a letter to Pence that they were extremely concerned over Ecuador's protection of Assange at its embassy in London.

Pence was beginning his stop in Ecuador on Wednesday as part of a three-nation tour of Latin America, where he will meet with President Lenin Moreno to discuss trade and the crisis in Venezuela.

"It is imperative that you raise US concerns with President Moreno," the letter says. "WikiLeaks continues its efforts to undermine democratic processes globally."

Ecuador granted Assange asylum in 2012 when he was seeking refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden for investigation of sex-related claims.

Sweden dropped the case, but Assange remains subject to arrest in Britain for jumping bail. He also fears a possible US extradition request based on his leaking of classified State Department documents.

The senators' letter says Assange used WikiLeaks to release hacked information and influence the US presidential election in 2016 and that WikiLeaks continues to undermine democracy globally.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his former position as CIA director characterised WikiLeaks as a "non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia," the letter says.

In 2017, WikiLeaks interfered in the French presidential election and the Spanish referendum on Catalan independence, the letter says.

Published 28 June 2018 at 9:18am
Source: AAP