Tue, Apr 16, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Assange violated asylum conditions, Ecuador says

HUMAN RIGHTS:Ecuador’s president said that the UK had assured him that the WikiLeaks frontman would not extradited to a country to face the death penalty

The Guardian

WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange arrives at the Westminster Magistrates Court in London after he was arrested on Thursday last week.

Photo: Reuters

WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange repeatedly violated his asylum conditions and tried to use the Ecuadoran embassy in London as a “center for spying,” Ecuadoran President Lenin Moreno said in an interview with the Guardian.

Moreno also said he had been given written undertakings from Britain that Assange’s fundamental rights would be respected and that he would not be sent anywhere to face the death penalty.

Assange, 47, was taken from the embassy by British police on Thursday last week after Ecuador revoked his political asylum, ending a stay there of nearly seven years.

He faces up to 12 months in prison after being found guilty of breaching his bail conditions when he entered the embassy in 2012.

He made the move after losing a battle against extradition to Sweden where he faced allegations including of rape, which he denies.

Assange is expected to fight extradition to the US over an allegation that he conspired with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer.

Sweden is weighing whether to reopen an investigation into the rape and sexual assault allegations. When there are competing extradition requests in the UK, the home secretary decides which country should take priority.

Moreno’s move against Assange has proved controversial in Ecuador.

His predecessor, Rafael Correa, has accused his one-time political ally of “a crime humanity will never forget” and described Moreno as “the greatest traitor in Ecuadoran and Latin American history.”

In what might have been part of a campaign to weaken Moreno, WikiLeaks was linked to an anonymous Web site that claimed Moreno’s brother had created an offshore company, and it leaked material including private pictures of Moreno and his family.

In his first interview with English-speaking media since Assange was ejected from the embassy, Moreno denied he had acted as a reprisal for the way in which documents about his family had been leaked, and said he regretted that Assange had allegedly used the embassy to interfere in other country’s democracies.

“Any attempt to destabilize is a reprehensible act for Ecuador, because we are a sovereign nation and respectful of the politics of each country,” he said in the interview, which was conducted by e-mail.

“It is unfortunate that, from our territory and with the permission of authorities of the previous government, facilities have been provided within the Ecuadoran embassy in London to interfere in processes of other states,” he said.

“We can not allow our house, the house that opened its doors, to become a center for spying,” Moreno said, in an apparent reference to the leaked pictures. “This activity violates asylum conditions. Our decision is not arbitrary, but is based on international law.”

He accused Assange of repeatedly interfering in the internal affairs of other states, referencing WikiLeaks’ publication of Vatican documents in January as a recent example.

“It is unfortunate that there are individuals dedicated to violating the privacy of people,” Moreno said.

He said the decision to cooperate with the British and remove Assange from the embassy was a sovereign decision of his government and was not forced upon him by any external power.

“He was a guest who was offered a dignified treatment, but he did not have the basic principle of reciprocity for the country that knew how to welcome him, or the willingness to accept protocols [from] the country that welcomed him,” Moreno said.

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