MOSCOW, April 12. /TASS/. The arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange runs counter to the idea of freedom of the media, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding Moscow expected that his legitimate rights would be respected.
"In fact, it [Wikileaks] is an independent source of information that is being persecuted," Peskov said. "Certainly, from our standpoint, it runs totally counter to the idea of freedom of the media and the media’s immunity," he emphasized. "This is why we expect that all of Assange’s legitimate rights will be respected," the Kremlin spokesman added.
When commenting on assumptions that Assange’s arrest may have negative consequences for Russia because, according to the US media, he disclosed information about US 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s correspondence, Peskov said it was nothing but a conspiracy theory.
Assange was arrested by the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police Service at the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday, after Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno had announced the withdrawal of his asylum.
In 2012, Assange sought refuge in London's Ecuadorian Embassy to escape extradition to Sweden, which had issued a warrant for his arrest on sexual harassment and rape charges. Assange dismissed the accusations as politically motivated. His worst fear was Sweden might extradite him to the United States, where he would face 35 years in prison or capital punishment for publishing classified State Department documents. The rape case was dropped in 2017 but the United Kingdom continued to insist that Assange be arrested over his failure to appear in court in London.