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Julian Assange steps down as Wikileaks editor after losing access to internet in embassy refuge

Julian Assange has stepped down as editor of Wikileaks as he continues to be denied access to the internet and other forms of communications.

Assange, who has been living inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than six years, will continue as the website’s publisher.

He will be replaced as editor by Kristinn Hrafnsson, an Icelandic investigative journalist.

The Ecuador Government decided over six months ago to cut off Assange’s communications and limit visits to members of his legal team.

A Wikileaks statement said: “Due to extraordinary circumstances where Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks has been held incommunicado (except visits by his lawyers) for six months while arbitrarily detained in the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange has appointed Kristinn Hrafnsson as editor-in-chief of Wikileaks.

“Assange will continue to be the publisher of Wikileaks.”

Hrafnsson said: “I condemn the treatment of Julian Assange that leads to my new role, but I welcome the responsibility to secure the continuation of the important work based on Wikileaks ideals.”

The news comes a day after Ecuador’s president said his country and the UK were working on a legal solution which would allow Assange to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in “the medium term”.

President Lenin Moreno told the Associated Press that Assange’s lawyers were aware of the negotiations, but declined to provide more details because of the sensitivity of the case.

Assange fears that should he leave the embassy he could be extradited to the United States, where high-level officials have spoken about prosecuting him for stealing classified information.

Moreno said his country would seek to protect Assange’s rights.

Picture: Reuters/Peter Nicholls

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