Ecuadorians head to the polls for general elections on Feb. 19. And if they end up backing the main opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso, Julian Assange could find his stay at the country’s London embassy coming to a halt.
Lasso, the leader of the right-wing Creo-Suma party, has argued that hosting the WikiLeaks founder has become an unjustifiable expense, the Guardian reports.
“The Ecuadorian people have been paying a cost that we should not have to bear,” Lasso told the newspaper during an interview in Quito, “We will cordially ask Señor Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate.”
Until recently, a Lasso victory seemed unlikely. However, ruling party candidate Lenín Moreno’s lead had narrowed to seven points in the latest poll and many forecasters tip Lasso to force a second ballot under Ecuador’s two-round system.
Assange was given asylum by Ecuador in August 2012 and has lived in the country’s London embassy since. But according to the Guardian, even if the supportive ruling party retains power, he will be under pressure to leave.
“Our staff have been through a lot. There is a human cost,” Guillaume Long, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, told the Guardian. “This is probably the most watched embassy on the planet.”