Julian Assange Sues Ecuador
WikiLeaks announced on Friday that Julian Assange is taking legal action against the government of Ecuador for “violating his fundamental rights and freedom.”
The lawsuit takes place following a downturn in the relations between the Ecuadorian government and Assange. Assange was granted refuge by the Ecuadorian government in 2012 and has lived in the country’s embassy in the United Kingdom since then.
The British government wanted to extradite Assange to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning involving a sexual assault allegation until May 2017 when the charges were dropped. Assange initially perceived this extradition as an opportunity for the United States to imprison him for the release of confidential documents.
In recent months, the relationship between Assange and the Ecuadorian government has rapidly deteriorated. In March, Ecuadorian officials cut off Assange’s access to internet and phones. WikiLeaks asserts Assange was also not permitted to access journalist or human rights organizations.
In a statement released by WikiLeaks, Assange asserts Ecuador has “threatened to remove his protection and summarily cut off his access to the outside world."
The accusations against Ecuador have arisen after the leaking of a report revealing a new set of house rules Assange must adhere to beginning December 1.
The document published by the Ecuadorian website Codigo Vidrio, address a multitude of topics. Assange must now obtain approval for all visitors three days in advance. In addition, Assange is banned from activities which could be “considered as political or interfering with the internal affairs of other states,” according to The Guardian.
Assange must also pay for his expenses including food, medical, and laundry. In addition, he must keep the embassy spaces clean. Assange has also been ordered to take better care of his cat. Otherwise, he is at risk of it being taken away.
Newsweek states “It was not immediately clear if the WikiLeaks founder had agreed” to these new rules.
Last weekend the Embassy partially lifted Assange’s restrictions on internet access, but they stated: “he would only be allowed to use the embassy WiFi for his personal computer and phone.”
On Thursday, the WikiLeaks Twitter account stated that “after U.S. pressure, moves had been made to strip Assange of his Ecuadorian citizenship. [...] His citizenship status is a barrier to rendering him to another state as Article 79 of Ecuador’s constitution forbids extradition of citizens,” it added.
WikiLeaks lawyer Baltasar Garzon arrived in Ecuador this week to initiate legal proceedings against the government.
On Friday in a news conference, Garzon said that “a number of measures have a threatening tone” furthermore, Garzon accused the Ecuadorian government of “not doing enough.”
He added: "This is the time when they need to act ... it's on Ecuador's interest and also Mr. Assange's interest."
On Wednesday, the Ecuadorian Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed the document with the new rules.
"Ecuador is a sovereign state, that makes its decisions on foreign policy with autonomy and looking after the national interests while strictly following international law," it said.
Assange’s lawyers assert Ecuador is violating his rights by the denying of internet access because Assange failed to follow rules that Ecuador asserts he agreed to as part of his asylum conditions.
"Ecuador's government warns that Assange's behavior through his social media messages puts in risk the good relationship the country has with the U.K., other [European Union] countries and other nations," a statement from March said.
Pressure has been mounting on Ecuador to turn Assange over to the U.K. Earlier this week, a U.S. congressman wrote an open letter to President Moreno of Ecuador saying “we must first resolve a significant challenge created by your predecessor, Rafael Correa – the status of Julian Assange.” The letter ends by saying “We are hopeful about developing warmer relations with your government, but feel that it will be very difficult for the United States to advance our bilateral relationship until Mr. Assange is handed over to the proper authorities.”
Considering the Assange’s lawsuit and the U.S’s pressure on the Government of Ecuador, Julian Assange’s future in the Ecuadorian Embassy remains uncertain.