Ecuador to Hand Over Assange’s Belongings to US

By Reuters

Police conducted a search on May 20 to remove personal belongings left by WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

Judicial authorities from Ecuador carried out an inventory of all the belongings and digital devices left behind at the London embassy following Assange’s expulsion last month from the diplomatic compound that had been his home the past seven years.

It’s not known what devices authorities removed from the embassy or what information they contained.

Julian Assange at Embassy of Ecuador in London
Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London, England on May 19, 2017. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The investigation comes following a request from the United States based on a legal agreement Quito and Washington entered into. Lawyers for Assange have denounced the agreement.

It came as Sweden announced it was seeking Assange’s arrest on suspicion of rape, setting up a possible future tug-of-war with the United States over any extradition of Assange from Britain.

Ecuadorian authorities said they will hand over any belongings not given to the United States or Ecuadorian investigators to Assange’s lawyers.

Ecuador is awaiting the results of the investigation before considering possible moves against the WikiLeaks founder for illegal activities, according to Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Jose Valencia.

According to Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, Assange repeatedly violated his asylum conditions and tried to use the Ecuadorian embassy in London as a center for spying.

London police dragged Assange out of the embassy in April after his seven-year asylum was revoked, paving the way for his extradition to the United States for one of the biggest ever leaks of classified information.

Assange’s relationship with his hosts collapsed after Ecuador accused him of leaking information about Moreno’s personal life.

Assange, 47, was arrested on April 11 after being handed over to British authorities by Ecuador. He is serving a 50-week sentence in a London prison for skipping bail while the United States seeks his extradition for conspiring to hack into military computers and spill secrets about U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Julian Assange in custody
A man is reflected in a window of a police van as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen inside, after he was arrested, in London, Britain on April 11, 2019. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

Separately on Monday, Swedish authorities issued a request for a detention order against Assange.

On May 13, Swedish prosecutors reopened a preliminary investigation against Assange, who visited Sweden in 2010, because two Swedish women said they were the victims of sex crimes committed by Assange.

While a case of alleged sexual misconduct against Assange in Sweden was dropped in 2017 when the statute of limitations expired, a rape allegation remains. Swedish authorities have had to shelve it because Assange was living at the embassy at the time and there was no prospect of bringing him to Sweden.

The statute of limitations in the rape case expires in August next year.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London, Britain, on May 19, 2017. (Neil Hall/Reuters)

The Associated Press and The CNN Wire contributed to this report.