Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Assange’s lawsuit over asylum conditions denied by Ecuador

© Reuters / Peter Nicholls

An Ecuadorian judge has thrown out the lawsuit by Julian Assange, who objected to the harshly revised terms of his asylum. The WikiLeaks co-founder has been trapped at the Embassy of Ecuador in London since 2012.

The judge made the decision following a lengthy hearing held by teleconference. Ecuador will maintain Assange’s asylum as long as he wants to keep it, but he must follow the rules laid out for him by the government, an unnamed government official told Reuters on Monday.

The new rules, which were leaked earlier this month by an opposition politician, involve a list of restrictions Assange has argued violate his “fundamental rights and freedoms” as well as Ecuadorian and international law. Among them are restrictions on discussing politics and receiving visitors, and demands of Assange to pay for his own food, medical care, laundry and related expenses of living at the embassy starting December 1.

Ecuador has also threatened to seize Assange’s pet cat if he did not care for it properly, according to the leaked regulations.

In the teleconference Monday, Assange accused Ecuador of using him as a “bargaining chip” in talks with the US and UK governments, and submitting to pressure from Washington and London. Ecuadorian Attorney General Inigo Salvador Crespo responded by calling those statements “malicious and perverse,” according to the newspaper El Comercio.

The new regulations and special protocols governing Assange’s visitations were put together for the purpose of making Assange’s continued stay at the embassy “harmonious,” Crespo argued.

“It is a public building that was not intended for housing, so there must be regulation,” he told the judge.

The WikiLeaks founder and longtime chief editor sought asylum in Ecuador in 2012, fearing that the UK would have him extradited to the US over the whistleblower website’s publication of classified US diplomatic cables and military documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ecuador does not have an extradition treaty with the US. However, the British authorities have prevented Assange from leaving the embassy ever since.

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