Monday, 19 November, 2018

Julian Assange launches legal action against Ecuador

Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sues Ecuador for 'violating his rights'
Deanna Wagner | 21 October, 2018, 12:01

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is to launch legal action against the government of Ecuador, accusing it of violating his "fundamental rights and freedoms".

It comes after the nation issued a new set of rules for Assange, who has lived in its London embassy for years.

Baltasar Garzón, a lawyer for Wikileaks, arrived in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, to lodge the case after the embassy denied Mr Assange internet access and visits from guests.

The WikiLeaks Twitter account stated on Thursday that "after U.S. pressure", moves had accelerated to grant Assange Ecuadorian citizenship.

WikiLeaks' statement said that the government had also rejected visits to Assange from Human Rights Watch General Counsel Dinah PoKempner, journalists and lawyers.

Julian Assange greets supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

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A protocol governing Assange's stay at the embassy - revealed by Ecuadoran internet site Codigo Vidrio and never denied by Quito - warns that further breaches will lead to "termination of asylum".

It added that the embassy was requiring Assange's visitors - including journalists and lawyers - to disclose "private or political details such as their social media usernames". The lawyer also said during a press conference that there are now no plans to take Assange to Russian Federation.

Assange had been granted asylum six years ago on the grounds that he feared extradition to America, where he faced a possible death sentence or torture for Wikileaks' alleged leak of secrets.

Ecuador in 2017 gave Assange citizenship and named him to a diplomatic post in Russian Federation, but rescinded the latter after Britain refused to give him diplomatic immunity, according to an Ecuadorean government document seen by Reuters.

In a statement, Wikileaks questioned the legality of the "Special Protocol" laid out to Assange by Ecuador, which was reported earlier this week and "makes Assange's political asylum contingent on censoring his freedom of opinion, speech, and association". The Protocol claims the Embassy may seize the property of Mr. Assange or his visitors, and, without a warrant, hand it over to United Kingdom authorities.

In July 2018, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights issued a ruling imposing obligations on Ecuador to protect Julian Assange from U.S. extradition.