Author: Latin America
The politics around the Ecuadorean government’s housing Julian Assange in its London embassy are changing, making the political refugee responsible for getting his own food thereby increasing his risk of arrest by U.K. authorities.
In a statement released by the London embassy, Ecuador’s officials say that Assange’s guests will have to make a request to visit the refugee at least three working days in advance. All regular and occasional visitors will need to present a slew of information, including their personal identification numbers, their social media affiliations, motives for visiting and they’ll have to declare all their electronics they may carry into the embassy before being able to enter.
In addition, all visits to the Wikileaks founder who has been holed up in Ecuador’s embassy since the summer of 2012 will be limited to working hours, with few exceptions. Any visitor who: “Does not behave themselves accordingly” during their visit won’t be able to visit the asylumee again.
Former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa gave Assange political asylum at Ecuador’s London embassy when the WikiLeaks founder was facing extradition to Sweden on rape and sexual assault charges, and to the United States for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. embassy memos, many related to Washington’s wars and invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In late September, the founder stepped down as editor-in-chief of Wikileaks and handed the reins to Icelander Kristinn Hrafnsson “after six months of effective incommunicado detention.” The communique says that Assange will be granted limited Internet access and the ability to communicate with the outside world, for which he’ll have to pay for starting Dec. 1, 2018.
The reversal in treatment towards the whistleblower comes under the new administration of former-Correa ally President Lenin Moreno who took office in May 2017. The Ecuadorean government had suspended his communications in March citing Assange’s political conversations, having discussed tensions between London and Moscow, as well as Catalan pro-independence movements on social media saying this jeopardized its international relations.
Ecuador’s communique clearly warns the refugee, who was granted Ecuadorean citizenship months ago, that should this behavior be repeated he could be released to the London streets where he would likely be put under arrest by British authorities and extradited to the United States on allegations of espionage.
“Any act that could be considered political and interfere with the internal affairs of other states or could hurt Ecuador’s good relations with other states … Julian Assange’s asylum status could be terminated,” reads the communique.
Assange’s well being and protection had been fully-funded since 2012, however Ecuador’s current President Moreno pulled the plug on these finances last May, and announced in the embassy statement that Assange will have to pay for regular medical check-ups every three months, and any subsequent treatments that will be his sole responsibility to manage.
The Ecuadorean embassy ends by saying that it is not responsible for the “food, medical provisions, laundry or other costs related to Julian Assange from December 1, 2018, and onward.” The diplomats underline that the refugee will also have to pay for and clean up after his pet.