Julian Assange, founder and editor at Wikileaks, will lose the extra security provided by the government of Ecuador after a report revealed that the South American country spent millions funding a spy network to protect him. The Guardian reports that the president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, has officially ordered the removal of Assange’s security detail after its investigative report into the security funding.
According to The Guardian, Ecuador invested $5 million into an undercover intelligence operation which was designed to protect the face of Wikileaks while he entertained visits from politicians, members of European nationalist groups, and people connected to the Kremlin. The project was originally approved by a previous Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa, who has called the measures “routine and modest.” But President Lenin Moreno has taken a more hardline stance, axing the extra security and declaring that only normal security standards will be in place from now on.
Moreno has previously called the Assange living situation, “a stone in his shoe,” The Guardian reports. The embassy previously blocked all of Assange’s communications outlets in March after he sent out some controversial tweets which disputed Britain’s claim that Russia had poisoned one of its former double-agents and his daughter.
Assange has been living at the Ecuadorian embassy for six years after he was granted asylum. As the BBC notes, he moved in to escape extradition to Sweden to face sex-crime charges, charges that the Wikileaks founder denies to this day. During the six years that he’s been in the embassy, Sweden abandoned their investigation but Assange is still wanted by British authorities for allegedly violating his bail conditions. He may never leave the building though since Assange has said he believes that he will be extradited to the United States if he steps out of the embassy, the BBC reports.
June 19: WikiLeaks publisher @JulianAssange marks 6 years in Ecuador's Embassy in London—detained in the UK without charge, denied healthcare & sunlight, and now gagged & isolated, for documenting the world. Join the solidarity vigil 11am-8pm, speeches from 6pm. pic.twitter.com/7yNJdyUXge
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 11, 2018
Assange now has Ecuadorian citizenship, and the government has previously said that it will continue to honor his asylum claim. But, according to the BBC, they have looked into ways they could encourage his removal from their embassy without triggering his arrest.
No, @Guardian, @JulianAssange did not "hack into" embassy
satellites. That's an anonymous libel aligned with the current UK-US government onslaught against Mr. Assange's asylum–while he can't respond. You've gone too far this time. We're suing. https://t.co/DDnkSoczut pic.twitter.com/qWB0wkatN2
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 15, 2018
The Australian-born Wikileaks founder is wanted in the U.S. for releasing top-secret military reports and video related to the Iraq war via the website.