News World Mike Pence urged to press Ecuador on Julian Assange
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Mike Pence urged to press Ecuador on Julian Assange

Julian Assange Mike Pence
Ecuador granted Julian Assange asylum in 2012 when he was seeking refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden. Photo: Getty
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Democrats in the US Senate have urged Vice President Mike Pence to press Ecuador’s government about the asylum it grants to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Senator Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and nine other Democratic senators wrote to Mr Pence to say they were extremely concerned about Ecuador’s protection of Mr Assange at its embassy in London.

Mr Pence was beginning his stop in Ecuador on Wednesday as part of a three-nation tour of Latin America. He will meet Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, to discuss trade and the crisis in Venezuela.

Mike Pence Julian Assange Ecuador
Mike Pence arrives in Ecuador as part of a Latin American tour. Photo: Getty

“It is imperative that you raise US concerns with President Moreno,” the letter says. “WikiLeaks continues its efforts to undermine democratic processes globally.”

Ecuador granted Mr Assange asylum in 2012 when he was seeking refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden for investigation of sex-related claims.

Sweden dropped the case, but Mr Assange remains subject to arrest in Britain for jumping bail. He also fears a possible US extradition request based on his leaking of classified State Department documents.

The senators’ letter also says Mr Assange used WikiLeaks to release hacked information and influence the US presidential election in 2016.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in his former position as CIA director, characterised WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia”, the letter says.

It also claims that  WikiLeaks interfered in the French presidential election and the Spanish referendum on Catalan independence in 2017.