The Latest: WikiLeaks editor says Assange in a London prison
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s arrest (all times local):
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson has told The Associated Press that Julian Assange is confined to a cell at Belmarsh Prison, a grim facility in southeast London.
He said conditions at the sprawling prison offer some advantages, however over the embassy where Assange lived for nearly seven years without taking a step outside. Assange was arrested Thursday.
And the WikiLeaks founder should finally be able to receive badly needed medical care for a shoulder problem and tooth pain now that he is out of the Ecuadorian embassy and in prison, Hrafnsson added.
“There are medical facilities there, access to dental care I would assume and a garden to go out into,” he said.
He added that it is now much easier for Assange to meet with his legal team in prison than it was at the embassy, where a feud with Ecuadorian authorities had led to a ban of most guests.
He said Assange is in relatively good mental condition considering the stress of recent days.
The 47-year-old hacker faces sentencing for jumping bail in Britain and possible extradition to the United States.
Ecuador’s interior minister says a Swedish software developer the country alleges was helping WikiLeaks blackmail the South American government visited Julian Assange, the founder of the anti-secrecy group, on 12 occasions while he was cooped up at Ecuador’s embassy in London.
Minister Maria Paula Romo also said Ola Bini, arrested Thursday at Quito’s airport preparing to board a flight to Japan with at least 30 digital storage device, traveled to Venezuela this year at the same time as former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s foreign minister.
Correa granted Assange asylum in 2012 and has been leading a campaign to expose corruption by his hand-picked successor turned arch enemy Lenin Moreno
An Ecuadorian criminal defense attorney who said he expected to represent Bini had no immediate comment on the Swede’s detention. Milton Salazar said he did not yet know what, if any, charges Bini faced and had not yet met with him.
Julian Assange’s mother has taken to Twitter to call on authorities to be gentle with her son, who’s jailed in London after his removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Christine Assange’s tweets on Friday say Assange had been deprived of fresh air, exercise and medical care. “Please be patient, gentle & kind to him” she asked of police and court personnel.
The WikiLeaks founder is an Australia native, and the government said he would receive consular help due to its citizens after he was arrested on a U.S. conspiracy charge. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the expected battle over Assange’s possible extradition would not involve Australia.
France’s government says it won’t consider offering Julian Assange political asylum unless he asks for it.
Assange’s French lawyer has appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron to intervene to bring the WikiLeaks founder from a London jail to France and help him avoid extradition to the United States.
Lawyer Juan Branco told The Associated Press on Thursday that Macron should offer mediation and to “take this man under our protection.” He said Assange has a small child in France.
France’s secretary of state for European affairs, Amelie de Montchalin, said Friday on France-Inter radio that while Europe has special measures to protect whistleblowers, France hasn’t received a formal request from Assange. She said “we should listen to what he wants to do” but “we don’t offer asylum to someone who’s not asking for it.”
Macron hasn’t commented publicly.
Assange was arrested Thursday in London and faces U.S. charges related to WikiLeaks’ publication of tens of thousands of classified government documents.
The leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party says the government should oppose the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States.
Jeremy Corbyn said in a tweet that the U.S. is trying to extradite Assange because he exposed “evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Diane Abbott, Labour’s spokeswoman for domestic affairs, told the BBC on Friday that the government should block the extradition on human rights grounds. Assange was arrested Thursday at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
Abbott says the U.S. case against Assange is about the “embarrassment of the things he’s revealed about the American military and security services.”
She says Assange is “a whistleblower, and much of the information that he brought into the public domain, it could be argued, was very much in the public interest.”
Follow AP’s coverage of the arrest of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange here: https://www.apnews.com/WikiLeaks