Although their plan was abandoned at the last minute, The Guardian reports that Russian officials drafted plans alongside Ecuador's former intelligence chief to smuggle WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London and into Moscow.
Their plan reportedly called for placing Assange inside a diplomatic vehicle and then transporting him to Russia either by plane or boat.
One ultimate destination, multiple sources have said, was Russia, where Assange would not be at risk of extradition to the US. The plan was abandoned after it was deemed too risky.
The operation to extract Assange was provisionally scheduled for Christmas Eve in 2017, one source claimed, and was linked to an unsuccessful attempt by Ecuador to give Assange formal diplomatic status. [...]
Assange’s Christmas Eve escape was aborted with just days to go, one source claimed. Rommy Vallejo, the head of Ecuador’s intelligence agency, allegedly travelled to the UK on or around 15 December 2017 to oversee the operation and left London when it was called off.
In February Vallejo quit his job and is believed to be in Nicaragua. He is under investigation for the alleged kidnapping in 2012 of a political rival to [former President Rafael Correa].
The implications of this story seem clear as day to me.
Assange is Russia's guy and he always has been. They're afraid he'll crack like an egg and give up everything he knows if he's taken into custody by western authorities.
The Guardian reports that Ecuador's former ambassador Fidel Narváez served as the point of contact between Russia and Assange and that brings us to another intriguing connection.
Narváez previously played a role in trying to secure Edward Snowden’s safe passage following his leak of secret NSA material in 2013. Narváez gave the former NSA contractor a so-called safe-conduct pass when he left Hong Kong for Moscow, where Snowden eventually found asylum. At the time, the then president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, said Narváez had issued the pass without the government’s knowledge. The Spanish-language broadcaster Univision reported that Narváez travelled to Moscow the same day that he issued the safe passage document to Snowden; other sources have corroborated this report.
The evidence may be circumstantial, but I personally believe Edward Snowden was patient zero for Russia's interference in the 2016 election. He gave Russia the keys to everything.
I'm sure British intelligence has been keeping a very close eye on Assange, but now that this story is out there it seems virtually impossible that he'll escape.