Americas

WikiLeaks’ Assange celebrates asylum safety, gives Lasso one month “to leave” Ecuador

In this Friday Feb. 5, 2016 file photo, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.
In this Friday Feb. 5, 2016 file photo, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. AP

Ecuador’s ruling party candidate Lenín Moreno on Monday extended his lead over former banker Guillermo Lasso even as the opposition vowed to challenge the results.

And while the National Electoral Council has not declared a winner yet, across the Atlantic there was one man who seemed to be gloating.

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 fighting extradition to Sweden on sexual misconduct allegations, took to Twitter to badger Lasso.

Read More: Contentious campaign leaves Moreno with lead

During the campaign, Lasso, a former banker, had threatened to evict Assange from the embassy within 30 days of taking office. As the initial results came in, Assange returned fire.

“I cordially invite Lasso to leave Ecuador within 30 days (with or without his tax haven millions),” Assange wrote on Twitter.

With 99 percent of the vote counted, Moreno had 51.16 percent of the vote versus Lasso’s 48.84 percent, the National Electoral Council reported.

Lasso and his CREO party claim they’ve uncovered irregularities in some of the votes and have vowed to contest the results. Late Sunday, Lasso’s supporters broke through police barricades and chanted anti-government slogans, but local media was not reporting any serious problems on Monday.

Read More: What’s in a name? Lenin, Stalin and Hitler in Ecuador

The outcome is a clear win for President Rafael Correa who has led this country for a decade and needed Moreno’s victory to ensure his legacy and the continuation of his leftist “Citizens’ Revolution.”

Lasso had vowed to begin dismantling Corrreismo on day one and vowed to get to the bottom of corruption that he says has hollowed out the administration.

Assange and Correa bonded in 2010 when WikiLeaks began releasing U.S. State Department cables. Buried in the communiqués was a 2009 document by U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Heather Hodges where she outlined alleged corruption charges against a former police chief and speculated that Correa had appointed him because his checkered past made him easy to manipulate. Correa declared Hodges persona non grata and briefly severed ties with the United States.

Read More: A wheelchair in Ecuador’s White House?

While Assange may keep his safe haven under Moreno, it’s not clear if and when he’ll be able to leave the embassy. Ecuador hasn’t been able to move him from the small diplomatic outpost — to bring him to Ecuador, for example — amid fears he might be arrested as he leaves the premises.

And while Assange’s fate has caught world attention, it hasn’t generated much attention in this country of 16 million.

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