WikiLeaks founder accuses government of violating his ‘rights and freedoms’
The move follows a deterioration in relations between the Ecuadorian government and the Wikileaks founder, who was granted refuge at Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012 while on bail in the UK over sexual assault allegations against him in Sweden.
Newly released Ecuadorian government documents have laid bare an unorthodox attempt to extricate the WikiLeaks founder from his embassy hideaway by naming him as a political counsellor to the country’s embassy in Moscow.
Earlier this year, Ecuador laid out a stringent new set of house rules for Assange, warning him to avoid online comments about political issues – and ordering him to clean his bathroom and take better care of his cat or risk losing his pet.
Assange must obtain approval for all visitors from diplomatic staff three days in advance. He is banned from activities that could be “considered as political or interfering with the internal affairs of other states”, according to a memo seen by the Guardian.
The Ecuadorian government partially lifted restrictions on Assange’s internet access last weekend, but stipulated he would only be allowed to use the embassy wifi for his personal computer and phone.
The WikiLeaks Twitter account stated on Thursday that “after US pressure”, moves had accelerated to grant Assange 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.
Sources close to WikiLeaks confirmed to the Guardian on Friday that the legal action was in the works and that there was due to be a press conference in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito.
Assange was made an Ecuadorian citizen last December, in an attempt by the nation’s foreign ministry to resolve the political impasse over his continued presence in the UK. The 46-year-old was naturalised after living for five-and-a-half years in the Latin American country’s cramped embassy in Knightsbridge, central London.
Earlier this year, the UK Foreign Office revealed Ecuador had asked for Assange, who was born in Australia, to be accredited as a diplomat. The request was dismissed.
The Ecuadorian initiative was intended to confer legal immunity on the WikiLeaks founder, allowing him to slip out of the embassy and Britain without being arrested for breaching his former bail conditions.
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