The president of Ecuador has accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of trying to use the country’s embassy in London as a “center for spying.”
Lenín Moreno said during an interview with The Guardian that Assange repeatedly violated his asylum conditions during the nearly seven years that he stayed at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He was removed from there by British police last Thursday when the South American country revoked his political asylum.
The 47-year-old sought asylum there in 2012 when he was ordered to be extradited to Sweden, where he faced several allegations, including rape, which he always denied. However, he now faces up to 12 months in jail after being found guilty of breaching his bail conditions. Moreno also said that he was given written undertakings from the U.K. to assure him that Assange’s fundamental rights would be respected, and that he would not be sent to any place where he could face a death sentence.
The brain behind controversial website WikiLeaks is now expected to embark on a legal battle to avoid being extradited to the United States, where he would face allegations that he conspired with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a government computer and obtain classified information. Sweden is also pondering whether or not to reopen his sexual assault case, which means there would be two competing extradition requests, in which case the U.K.’s Home Secretary would decide which country should take priority.
#Ecuador’s own Human Rights Commission has found that @Lenin’s expulsion of #Assange from the embassy was unlawful, violating the Constitution, human rights treaties and Ecuador’s international obligations: https://t.co/p6ZyYzSmeC https://t.co/H7iNW3FqEh— Jen Robinson (@suigenerisjen) April 14, 2019
Ecuador’s President said in his interview that he regretted the fact that Assange was allegedly given the tools to use the country’s embassy to “interfere” with other world 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.
“It is unfortunate that, from our territory and with the permission of authorities of the previous government, facilities have been provided within the Ecuadorian embassy in London to interfere in processes of other states,” he added.
Julian Assange was arrested because Wikileaks exposed the corruption of the Ecuadorian government, the INA papers, which would involve the current president Lenin Moreno, his family, and his closest circle. In what would be one of the most scandalous cases of recent times. pic.twitter.com/GkfgeGdiNL— @Lqatoriano #INApapers #FreeAssange (@lqatoriano) April 12, 2019
“We can not allow our house, the house that opened its doors, to become a center for spying,” Moreno said, in what was probably a reference to a series of leaked pictures of his own family by an anonymous website that has been linked to WikiLeaks.
In a sovereign decision Ecuador withdrew the asylum status to Julian Assange after his repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols. #EcuadorSoberano pic.twitter.com/pZsDsYNI0B— Lenín Moreno (@Lenin) April 11, 2019
The material was leaked in an attempt to weaken the Ecuadorian president’s reputation, and many, including previous president Rafael Correa, have accused Moreno of making the decision based on personal vengeance, calling it a “crime humanity will never forget.” Still, Moreno claims the move was “not arbitrary” but “based on international law,” and referred to WikiLeaks’ most recent controversy, when they published a series of Vatican documents in January of 2019.