Julian Assange may have sought sanctuary with Russia before turning to Ecuador

The WikiLeaks founder is still avoiding charges while residing in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
2 min read

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, shown in this 2016 shot about to speak from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Carl Court, Getty Images

Before Julian Assange ended up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, he may have sought refuge from Russia.

On Nov. 30, 2010, the founder of WikiLeaks wrote a letter to the Russian Consulate in London asking for a visa , according to the Associated Press.

"I, Julian Assange, hereby grant full authority to my friend, Israel Shamir, to both drop off and collect my passport, in order to get a visa," reads the letter. The AP obtained the letter and other documents -- such as bank accounts, telephone numbers and airline tickets -- related to how Assange avoids arrest. CNET is unable to verify whether the documents are real or have been altered.

Shamir reportedly told the AP that he had memory problems and couldn't remember delivering Assange's letter to the Russian Consulate or getting the visa.

WikiLeaks posted a statement on Twitter on Monday saying "Mr. Assange didn't apply for such a visa at any time or author the document."

On the same date that Assange sent the letter, Interpol issued a Red Notice for his arrest, making his Russian sanctuary request impossible, according to the AP. Sweden was trying to extradite Assange for allegedly raping a woman during a trip to the Scandinavian country in August 2010. 

In 2012, Assange skipped bail and made his way into the Ecuadorian Embassy. The investigation into Assange was dropped last year, though he's still in self-imposed exile. In February, the WikiLeaks founder lost his bid to stop legal action against him in the UK, a warrant for his arrest still stands, a British high court judge ruled.

WikiLeaks didn't immediately respond to a comment regarding how this report will affect Assange's situation. 

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