WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced Jan. 23, that he is launching a legal challenge against the United States government.
The Guardian newspaper reported that lawyers for the activist have filed an application to the Washington-based Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, aimed at forcing U.S. prosecutors to “unseal” any secret charges against him.
It is believed that American prosecutors have been investigating Assange since at least 2011, over his website’s publication of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables.
The legal move comes at a time when Assange’s protection by the government of Ecuador appears to be getting dicey.
He has been staying in a Knightsbridge flat, which houses the Ecuadorian Embassy, since 2012, when he fled extradition proceedings at the U.K.’s Supreme Court.
But the relationship has deteriorated since a new government took office in the Latin American country in 2017. In December, Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said Assange can leave Ecuador’s London Embassy.
In a radio interview, Moreno said he has received sufficient written guarantees from the British government that Assange would not be extradited to any country where he would face the death penalty, according to the Associated Press.
However, he said he would not force Assange out.
The WikiLeaks activist, last year, accused the embassy of violating his “fundamental rights and freedoms” by restricting his internet access.
Following leads in 2010, the federal government of the United States launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and asked allied nations for assistance.
In November 2010, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange. He had been questioned there months earlier over allegations of sexual assault and rape.
He denied the allegations and said he would be extradited from Sweden to the United States because of his role in publishing secret American documents. Assange surrendered to U.K. police on Dec. 7, 2010, but was released on bail within 20 days.
He breached his bail and absconded. He was granted asylum by Ecuador in August 2012 and has remained in the Embassy in London since then. He has held Ecuadorian citizenship since Dec. 12, 2017.
During the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries, WikiLeaks holed up emails sent or received by candidate Hillary Clinton from her private email server when she was secretary of state.
Assange said Clinton was causing “hysteria about Russia.” He consistently denied any connection to, or cooperation with, Russia in relation to the leaks.
In April, 2017, it was reported that U.S. authorities prepared charges to seek the arrest of Assange. The Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates back to at least 2010, when the site first gained wide attention for posting thousands of files stolen by the formerly U.S. Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.
Assange has published millions of documents, including hacked emails from corporations and public figures, international trade agreements and foreign government records.
He has had multiple FBI investigations, crippling staff mutinies and venomous fights with journalists.
One report is that he may flee Britain to go to Russia.
Assange’s extraordinary story is now getting back into the news.
It will be interesting how this internet tale will continue to play out.