Julian Assange has taken a British Foreign Office minister to task after the Tory MP branded the WikiLeaks founder a “miserable little worm.”
Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sir Alan Duncan, made the remark during a question-and-answer session in the House of Commons.
When asked about Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2013, Duncan said his presence there is of “great regret.”
“It is of even deeper regret that last night he was tweeting against her majesty’s government for their conduct in replying to the attack in Salisbury,” he continued.
This seemingly refers to a series of tweets in which Assange criticised the timing of the expulsions.
Assange argued that expelling diplomats as Russia comes to grips with the deadly Kemerovo shopping center fire is poor diplomacy. He also pointed out that so far the evidence relating to the Skripal poisoning is circumstantial and lacks independent confirmation from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
(3/3) Further, while it is reasonable for Theresa May to view the Russian state as the leading suspect, so far the evidence is circumstantial & the OCPW has not yet made any independent confirmation, permitting the Kremlin push the view domestically that Russia is persecuted.
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) March 26, 2018
“It’s about time that this miserable little worm walked out of the embassy and gave himself up to British justice,” Duncan continued. Assange responded to the comment on Twitter stating “better a ‘worm’, a healthy creature that invigorates the soil, than a snake.”
Assange said that he’s a political prisoner, detained without charge for eight years, in violation of two UN rulings. He added: “I suppose I must be ‘miserable.’ However, he took issue with reference to his diminutive stature.
As a political prisoner detained without charge for 8 years, in violation of 2 UN rulings, I suppose I must be "miserable"; yet nothing wrong with being a "little" person although I'm rather tall; and better a "worm", a healthy creature that invigorates the soil, than a snake.
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) March 27, 2018
The WikiLeaks founder was wanted in Sweden for an alleged rape when he sought protection in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June 2012. Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation last year, but a British warrant for violating bail conditions still stands. Last month, Assange lost a bid to have the arrest warrant dropped.
Earlier this year Ecuador made Assange a citizen in the hopes of granting him diplomatic immunity. At the end of last month, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said that the UK was unwilling to mediate on the matter.
Assange fears that if he leaves the embassy he will be extradited to the US, where he’s wanted on espionage charges relating to his publishing of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables and war logs.