Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for South America

Newsline: Ecuador denies Assange’s embassy conditions deteriorated

Ecuador denied media reports that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had been made to sleep on the floor and denied heating at the country’s London embassy. In a statement, the presidency’s communication secretary dismissed the claims as “TOTALLY FALSE,” and said the embassy’s heating system “is working normally.” “No furniture has been removed from his room, which is accessed by an electronic key for his exclusive use,” the statement added. Assange, 47, has been living in the embassy since seeking refuge there in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced sexual assault charges that have since expired. But he still refuses to leave the embassy to avoid extradition to the United States to face charges over his website publishing huge caches of hacked State Department and Pentagon files in 2010.



Newsline: Ecuador FM says WikiLeaks’ Assange should surrender to UK rather than stay at embassy indefinitely

The UK will never let Julian Assange just leave the country, so he should surrender, Ecuador’s foreign minister said. The only other option is life self-imprisonment at the Ecuadoran embassy. “Mr. Assange has basically two options: to stay indefinitely because the British authorities have told us … that they will never authorize a safe passage for him to leave the embassy to a third country, and the other alternative is to surrender,” Foreign Minister José Valencia FM Mundo. While securing safety assurances from the British side would be ideal, “you cannot continue insisting on something that will not happen,” Valencia stressed, noting that Ecuador believes that it will be “most positive” for Assange to leave the diplomatic compound and face the British law – and by extension a possible extradition to the US. Assange has been stranded at the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012 when the diplomatic mission shielded him from a UK court trial for skipping bail. The move was meant to protect him from possible extradition to the US, where, Assange believes, he would face an unfair trial and a long detention for publishing American secrets. The concern was fueled last year after court papers in the US in an unrelated case mentioned a secret indictment against Assange.


Newsline: Bolivia set to open embassy in Turkey

Bolivia plans to open an embassy in Turkey to cement bilateral relations, Turkish presidential sources said late Jan. 9. The agreement on opening the embassy was reached at a meeting between Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay and Bolivian President Juan Evo Morales Ayma in the Venezuelan capital Caracas. During the meeting, they acknowledged that significant progress had been made in their countries’ relations after Turkey opened an embassy in Bolivia last year. The two countries agreed that the Bolivian embassy should be opened in the first half of this year.


Newsline: Bolsonaro confirms Brazil to move embassy to Jerusalem

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has confirmed he will move his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and said the main nation objecting to that is Iran, not Arab countries. Bolsonaro, speaking in an interview to SBT television, said: “The decision is taken, it’s only a matter of when it will be implemented.” The comment confirmed a statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Brazil this week to attend Bolsonaro’s January 1 investiture.


Newsline: UN Tells Britain to Let Assange Leave Ecuador Embassy

U.N. rights experts called on British authorities Friday to allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the Ecuador embassy in London without fear of arrest or extradition. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention reiterated its finding published in February 2016 that Assange had been de facto unlawfully held without charge in the embassy, where he has now been holed up for more than six years. He initially took asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation. That investigation was dropped.


Newsline: Assange Appeals New Embassy ‘House Rules’, Undergoes Medical Tests

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange appealed court-mandated “house rules” he must follow while living at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange received a series of medical exams, Ecuador’s top attorney said on Wednesday, in line with a new set of rules for his asylum at the Andean country’s London embassy that prompted him to sue the government. Assange first took asylum in the embassy in 2012, but his relationship with Ecuador has grown increasingly tense, with President Lenin Moreno saying he does not like his presence in the embassy. The government in October imposed new rules requiring him to receive routine medical exams, following concerns he was not getting the medical attention he needed. The rules also ordered Assange to pay his medical and phone bills and clean up after his pet cat. Inigo Salvador told reporters Ecuador did not have access to results of the tests, which were conducted by doctors Assange trusted, out of respect for his privacy. But he said Assange, who has sued Ecuador arguing that the new rules violate his rights, appeared coherent and lucid to him.


Newsline: Russian Strategic Bombers in Venezuela Spark Diplomatic Row

The United States is blasting Russia for deploying two strategic bombers to Venezuela for war games. “The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Tuesday. The Kremlin responded to Pompeo’s comments, calling them “unacceptable” and “highly undiplomatic for a secretary of state.” Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the U.S. has no business criticizing the money being spent on the drills, saying just half of the U.S. defense budget could feed all of Africa. Two Russian planes capable of carrying nuclear bombs landed in Venezuela Monday for what Venezuelan officials call air force drills designed to bolster its defense capabilities. Russia also sent about 100 pilots and other military personnel.