Julian Assange has stepped down as the editor of the whistleblowing site Wikileaks, stating he is unable to carry out his role effectively after been denied access to the internet and other communications channels by Ecuadorian authorities. Assange remains the publisher of the site as Kristinn Hrafnsson, an Icelandic investigative reporter who once acted as the organisation’s spokesperson, takes over the editorial role.
Hrafnsson criticised the conditions placed on Assange but embraced his new duties, vowing to continue Wikileaks work. Wikileaks made the announcement Wednesday, citing the “extraordinary conditions” of being held “incommunicado” by Ecuadorian authorities as the reason for the handover.
The relationship between Assange and his erstwhile protectors began to sour after Assange’s series of inflammatory statements while under their jurisdiction irked Ecuador. Assange’s controversial tweets back in March that claimed Britain would use the Salisbury poisoning incident to wage “a propaganda war” against Russia seemed to have been the last stroke as his internet and communication to the outside world was cut off shortly afterwards. He is now only allowed limited interaction with a team of lawyers and associates. Assange maintains he was exercising his freedom of speech as speaking truth to power is important.
Ecuador now seems eager to get rid of the whistle-blower as they confirmed seeking a “legal solution” with Britain to eject him from the embassy. Ecuadorian President, Lenin Moreno has lately described Assange’s presence at the embassy as “a problem”.
Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years after skipping bail. He was due for extradition to Sweden to face accusations of sexual assault but skipped bail and entered the embassy in 2012.
A judge ruled in February this year that the Australian national still faces arrest over violating bail conditions even after the Swedish charges were dropped. Another problem in the legal quandary facing Assange is the peril of being extradited to the US, where officials have expressed an interest in charging him for publishing classified information on Wikileaks.
Assange established Wikileaks in 2006 as a platform where individuals could discreetly publish information.