Statements have come out from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and CIA Director Mike Pompeo that the US will seek to arrest libertarian hero Julian Assange, known for heading Wikileaks. The organization has been a dumping ground for all sorts of incriminating activity by the US government in particular and has frustrated three administrations and a presidential campaign. Assange has been under an effective house arrest for several years since fleeing to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to escape interrogation for alleged rapes in Sweden. Ecuadorian officials brainstormed multiple plans to get Assange out of the embassy and to Ecuador, but none of them were considered viable. He has also had run-ins with embassy staff and after leaking many Hillary Clinton campaign emails, his internet was temporarily shut off. There was a brief concern that if a right-wing candidate won the recent presidential election, Assange would be asked to leave.
Pompeo claimed that Wikileaks directed much of the data leaks and encouraged the copying and transmission of files by Private Manning and others. The CIA director provides no evidence, but the media has decided not to question it like they question other claims from the Trump administration. Sessions stated one of his goals was to step up prosecution of leakers, likely facing pressure after unknown officials had been leaking all sorts of insider details from the administrations troubles. He also wanted to see Assange arrested. All of this is a bit concerning generally, but serves as a cold thank you to the man and organization who likely played a big role in helping Trump, Sessions, and Pompeo take office. The leaked campaign emails revealed massive corruption and scheming by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, along with media such as CNN. Its virtually a certainty that the revelations depressed Democrat voters and enthused Republicans. The GOP really owes a massive thanks to Assange and should pardon him. That, of course, would yield problems and accusations of corruption and collusion (ironic). Perhaps the Department of Justice is simply trying to give the appearance of pursuing Assange to put distance between them, and do not actually intend to succeed in extradition.
Assange has been criticized for supposedly focusing on the US and Western powers in leaks. This is, of course, irrelevant and untrue. Opponents ask why he does not target countries with worse records such as Russia, China, and Iran. The fact of the matter is there are already dozens of groups investigating those countries, not to mention Western governments are actively doing so too and even pursuing charges and war against them. Someone needs to investigate our countries, and there is no reason to believe that they are perfectly clean. This is what Wikileaks does. On top of that, Wikileaks has in fact leaked documents from corporations and other powers. They certainly have an agenda and bias like anyone else, but it seems to be directed at freedom and counter-globalism in the West.
Its not fully clear how Assange would even be arrested. British police could use a standard process to storm the embassy, but it would take time and catch flak. They could also just storm the embassy without following protocol, but this would cause a massive uproar. If embassies are not safe from incursions, diplomats cant conduct business, and Britain would look hypocritical. Additionally, Sweden has intimated that it has a claim first before the United States could get its hands on the fugitive, however the statute of limitations on the allegations against him run out in 2020. Regardless, Ecuador has a growing incentive to get Assange to safe harbor. They need to take heat off the embassy staff and the Australian native is getting stir crazy cooped up in a couple of rooms with little fresh air. Perhaps with time, they will discover a way to stuff him in a pouch and get him to an airplane, but the embassy is under heavy surveillance. It would not be legal to search a diplomatic vehicle, but it would be followed and any misstep seized on. It also might be possible to grant Assange protected status and demand he be allowed to fly to Ecuador. In truth, Britain ought to quietly allow this so everyone can go about their business and end the siege, but it is not in their policy to entertain such an idea. Hopefully some solution can be discovered soon.