Julian Assange's belongings 'to be confiscated' by US authorities

Adam Forrest

Julian Assange’s belongings from his time living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London will be seized by US prosecutors in the UK on Monday, according to WikiLeaks.

Ecuadorian officials are travelling to London to allow US prosecutors to “help themselves” to items at the embassy – including legal papers, medical records and electronic equipment – the organisation has claimed.

WikiLeaks said neither Assange’s lawyers nor United Nations officials were allowed to be present for the handover of possessions. The material is said to include two of Assange’s manuscripts.

His lawyers said an illegal seizure of property had been requested by the US, describing the country as “the agent of political persecution” against the WikiLeaks founder.

Assange was dragged out of the embassy last month and is serving a 50-week prison sentence for bail violations. He faces an extradition request from the US after authorities there charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, said: “On Monday Ecuador will perform a puppet show at the Embassy of Ecuador in London for their masters in Washington, just in time to expand their extradition case before the UK deadline on 14 June.

“The Trump administration is inducing its allies to behave like it’s the Wild West,” she added.

Baltasar Garzon, international legal coordinator for the defence of Assange and WikiLeaks, said: “It is extremely worrying that Ecuador has proceeded with the search and seizure of property, documents, information and other material belonging to the defence of Julian Assange, which Ecuador arbitrarily confiscated, so that these can be handed over to the agent of political persecution against him, the United States.

“It is an unprecedented attack on the rights of the defence, freedom of expression and access to information exposing massive human rights abuses and corruption. We call on international protection institutions to intervene to put a stop to this persecution.”

Ben Brandon, the lawyer representing the US at a recent extradition hearing, said there were computer room chats showing real-time discussions between Chelsea Manning and Assange over an attempt to gain access to classified US documents.

Earlier this week Swedish prosecutors announced they would reopen a 2010 rape case against the WikiLeaks founder.

Additional reporting by PA