Archive for Ecuador
A lawyer representing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said that there was a “great concern” that a new Ecuadorian President could force him out of the country’s London embassy, the media reported on Sunday. Ecuador’s presidential race will be decided in a run-off election, to be held April 2, between ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno and opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso. Moreno has indicated he would back Assange’s continued stay, while Lasso has indicated he would evict the Australian activist within 30 days of taking office. “We are preparing potential legal remedies should the opposition come to power in Ecuador,” Jennifer Robinson, a member of the legal team representing Assange and Wikileaks, told NBC News. “You don’t change asylum protections just because a change of government,” she added. Assange was granted asylum in Ecuador in 2012, and has been sheltering in the country’s UK embassy since then, in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault. The whistleblower said he fears Swedish authorities could deport him to the US, where he argues his work with Wikileaks could earn him life in prison or even the death penalty.
Julian Assange will be given a month’s notice to leave the Ecuadorian embassy if the country’s main opposition candidate wins the presidency in next week’s election. In an interview with the Guardian, Guillermo Lasso, of the rightwing Creo-Suma alliance, said it was time for the WikiLeaks founder to move on because his asylum was expensive and no longer justified. “The Ecuadorian people have been paying a cost that we should not have to bear,” he said during an interview in Quito. “We will cordially ask Señor Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate.” Even if there is no change in power in Quito, however, it seems increasingly likely that Assange will soon be moving from the cramped embassy in Knightsbridge that has been his refuge for more than four and a half years. Although the current government has maintained its position of solidarity, all involved have grown increasingly frustrated with a situation that Ecuador’s top diplomat described as “something out of a John le Carré novel”. “Our staff have been through a lot. There is a human cost,” said the foreign minister, Guillaume Long. “This is probably the most watched embassy on the planet.” British police and intelligence have kept the embassy under close surveillance since Ecuador granted asylum in June 2012 to prevent Assange’s extradition to Sweden for questioning about a sexual assault accusation.
Assange fears he is being bugged at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Lawyers claim the WikiLeaks founder, who has been holed up in the embassy for the past two years to avoid extradition to Sweden, ‘is most likely under auditory surveillance’. Last year a covert listening device was found behind a plug socket in the ambassador’s office, but security experts described it as rudimentary and unlikely to have been the work of police or the security services. Mr Assange’s new eavesdropping claim was included in a court submission last week in which his lawyers argue his confinement is a ‘deprivation of liberty’ under European law. Among other reasons, they cite his cramped living conditions which mean he ‘cannot carry out his professional duties in a normal fashion’. The 43-year-old has lived at the embassy since Ecuador gave him asylum in 2012.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange still has a right to political asylum in Ecuador, however, the resolution of the conflict depends purely on Britain, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said during a visit to Guatemala. “The situation with Assange could be resolved as early as tomorrow if the United Kingdom gives him a pass to leave the country,” Notimex news agency reported, quoting Tuesday’s statement by Correa. The Ecuadorean president claimed there are representatives in influential circuits, supporting capital punishment for Assange, which would be a violation of international law. At a press conference Monday, Assange claimed he would leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London “soon,” without giving any further details. The WikiLeaks founder wants to be given guarantees that he will not be extradited to the United States once he leaves the embassy building, his lawyer Jennifer Robinson told ABC News on Tuesday. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in central London since British courts ruled out in June 2012 his extradition to Sweden, where the whistleblower is facing sexual assault charges.
WikiLeaks website founder Julian Assange will leave the Embassy of Ecuador in London only when the cordon around the embassy is lifted, WikiLeaks spokesman and Assange’s lawyer Kristinn Hrafnsson said in an interview with RT. Assange is indeed planning to leave the embassy, but only if the British government “calls off the siege outside,” Hrafnsson said. In an interview with Fairfax Media, Assange said he awaits legal reforms in the United Kingdom that will help him find the proper solution to the threat of extradition to Sweden. Earlier the same day, the Wikileaks founder said he may soon leave Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has sought refuge for more than two years.
Police have gathered outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in anticipation that Julian Assange may be about to end his self-imposed two-year exile. If he walks out he is likely to be arrested and extradited to Sweden where he faces an investigation into sexual assault allegations. He may also face repercussions from skipping police bail by entering the embassy in June 2012. Assange claims he would then be at risk of being sent to the United States where a warrant awaits over his work with WikiLeaks exposing classified diplomatic and military information. It has been reported that his worsening health is behind his change of heart. Assange’s state of health was vividly described by a Mail on Sunday interviewer on the weekend – who listed the translucent pale skin, persistent cough and dark rings under his eyes. The Mail reported: “Assange is, according to a WikiLeaks source, suffering from the potentially life-threatening heart condition arrhythmia and has a chronic lung complaint and dangerously high blood pressure. A severe shortage of Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is impacting on his general health – in the long term, it can trigger asthma and diabetes, weaken bones and increase the risk of dementia.” The British Foreign Office had turned down Ecuador’s request to take him to hospital under diplomatic protection, the Mail said.
Ecuador announces the opening of an embassy in the occupied territories, joining 40 other nations with diplomatic missions in Palestine. The Ecuadorian government has announced the opening of an embassy in Palestine and also called for an end to the slaughter in Gaza. The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño tweeted on Monday that “Palestine lives in tragic moments: the moral obligation of the world is to end the slaughter in Gaza and to promote a lasting peace with justice,” as well as announcing the opening of the embassy. He wrote that, “Ecuador has decided to open an embassy in Palestine,” which will join “a diplomatic mission in Ramallah.” Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa has condemned the Israeli attacks on Palestine and called for and end to the conflict.