WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange greets supporters from a balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange greets supporters from a balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Assange steps down at WikiLeaks

JULIAN Assange has stepped down as editor of WikiLeaks.

The whistleblower, who has lived inside the Ecudorian Embassy in London for six years, will continue as the site's publisher.

Assange, 47 will be replaced by Kristinn Hrafnsson who is an Icelandic investigative journalist.

In a statement, WikiLeaks said, "Due to extraordinary circumstances where Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks has been held incommunicado (except visits by lawyers) for six months while arbitrarily detained in the Ecuadorean embassy, Mr Assange has appointed Kristinn Hrafnsson Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks. Mr Assange will continue to be the publisher of WikiLeaks."

Hrafnsson, 56, has slammed the treatment off his predecessor, who has continued to be denied access to the internet and other forms of communication, however he welcomed his new responsibility.

Assange also faces an arrest warrant in the UK after skipping a bail payment.

He was also accused of sexual assault in Sweden, however the charges have since been dropped.

The whistleblower also fears being extradited to the US where authorities have spoken about prosecuting him for publishing classified information from the National Security Agency.

Icelandic investigative journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson will take over from Julian Assange. Picture: AP
Icelandic investigative journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson will take over from Julian Assange. Picture: AP

The Ecuadorean Embassy cut off Assange's communications to the outside world in March after he tweeted Britain was readying itself for a "propaganda war" against Russia following the Salisbury poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal.

However, Ecuador's president Lenín Moreno recently declared that both his country and Britain were working on a legal solution for Assange to allow him to leave the embassy in "the medium term."

Before he was stopped communicating online, Assange continued making provocative statements via social media.

Assange has always argued that he was only exercising his right to free speech and that monitoring power politicians was important.