Why Ecuador Ended Assange's Asylum
Ecuador ended the asylum of Julian Assange on Thursday after a seven-year stay at the country’s embassy in London. Local police were called to arrest the WikiLeaks founder and remove him from the embassy.
Assange, an Australian national, was granted asylum by Ecuador in 2012 after fleeing sexual assault investigation in Sweden. He had also published a trove of United States classified government documents on WikiLeaks, for which he is still wanted by the US government.
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno claimed in a speech on Thursday that Assange had violated the terms of his asylum, prompting the country to “end the asylum of this spoiled brat.” Assange was also stripped of his Ecuadorian citizenship, which he was granted in 2017.
The relationship between Assange and the Ecuadorian government has been souring for some time. According to a list released by Ecuador’s Foreign Minister José Valencia, Assange rode scooters around the embassy, harassed his caretakers, and refused to clean up after himself, even smearing his own feces on the embassy walls.
However, the Latin American nation’s grievances with Assange extend beyond his behavior as a houseguest. President Moreno had asked Assange to decrease his online activity and claimed that Assange was not only using an unapproved mobile phone but was using it to interfere in government and state affairs.
Assange has also been accused of hijacking the embassy’s security files, installing distortion equipment, and seeking to interfere in Ecuador’s foreign policy and influence its relationship with other nations.
Some claim that Moreno terminated the WikiLeaks founder’s asylum as a political move. Last month, documents known as the INA papers were uploaded onto WikiLeaks implicating President Moreno and his family in a corruption scandal.
Assange was arrested Thursday on charges of skipping bail. It is possible he will be extradited to the US on new charges of hacking conspiracy.