There is no censorship in the “Free World.” Does anyone challenge me on this fact?

Wikileaks’ founder cannot surf the Internet and no one knows when he will. Ecuadorian chancellor, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, suggested such fact last Monday. She stated that her country has not set a deadline so that Wikileaks’ founder, Julian Assange, can browse the Internet again at the Ecuador embassy, where he lives since 2012.

As we know, the activist who champions freedom of speech lost his freedom first with the political asylum, and he now loses the opportunity to exist in the Internet. According to the current government in Ecuador, the punishment is justified as he broke the agreement of not making comments on certain subjects of the international arena.

An official press release of the government led by Lenin Moreno warned that Assange’s behavior with his messages on social networks were jeopardizing Ecuador relations with the UK, the European Union, and other nations including the US. Shortly before Assange were deprived of his right to going online, he had declared he supported the Catalan independent movement and according to some news, he even “messed” with Trump’s family.

This is what we know. The new fact is that the chancellor, in statements to the AP, cleared up that “Ecuador is basically demanding a guarantee for securing its rights and welfare in the framework of respect for the international right,” and added “It is not about censorship.”

No, of course not. There is no censorship in Ecuador-like “democracies.” Censorship, as Goebbel’s repetitive story spread by some I-don’t-like-censorship media and some “naive” that still play into such media’s hand, only exists in those pro-Stalin communist regimes or “populist” dictatorships like Rafael Correa’s. By the way, Correa was labeled as a censor who pretended to limit the news monopoly of the so-called “free press” in Ecuador.

As I do not like to tire you out, I just have few example of such “imaginary” censorship. This is the case of Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran, 24 years old singer-songwriter from Palma de Mallorca, aka Valtonyc, whose whereabouts are still unknown. He was sentenced to 2 years for releasing songs in the Internet that “praised terrorism, mocked Spanish royalty, and threatened a Spaniard politician with the use of violence.”

Another story is the one related to the Spanish actor Willy Toledo. Toledo was summoned by a court in Madrid due to a message where he championed three women who were prosecuted for alleged “blasphemy” as they ran amid a procession in the streets of Sevilla with a giant vagina that read “Rebellious Pussy.”

The punishable heresy of Toledo was to write a message in the social networks that read: “I shit on God and there are enough shit to expel on the dogma of the Saintliness and the virginity of Virgin Mary.”

There is no one better to explain the absence of censorship in the “Western World Heaven” than the Nobel Prize in Literature Mario Vargas Llosa, who said when referring to the assassination of more than 100 journalists in Mexico: “There is more press freedom in Mexico than 20 years ago, no doubt. Such press freedom is responsible for the assassination of more than 100 journalists as they publish now things that were forbidden before.”

Translated by Sergio A Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

‘Not a matter of censorship’: Ecuador FM defends restrictions on Assange

Ecuador’s foreign minister is denying her government is trying to censor WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by restricting his internet access and denying him visitors at the embassy in London.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa defended the move to cut Assange’s internet access in March, saying that he disregarded a vow to cease all “political activity” when he spoke out about the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury. He also made repeated statements about Spain’s bid to stifle the independence movement in Catalonia.

“On several occasions he [Assange] has agreed on not intervening in internal politics of third-party countries and unfortunately he has not complied with his commitment, so for the time being he is not allowed to have access to the internet,” Espinosa told the Associated Press, adding that the restrictions are “not a matter of censorship.”

"I think all parties are interested in finding an outlet, a solution, to this complex situation," she said. Espinosa was speaking from the UN headquarters in New York ahead of an election for the presidency of the next General Assembly.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, who was elected last year, recently told DW Spanish that Assange “continues to be a problem,” but added that his country “will respect his right to asylum if Assange respects the margins.”

The WikiLeaks founder was granted asylum by former President Rafael Correa in 2012, and he has been at the embassy in London ever since. Assange was facing charges in the US over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret US documents in 2010. His legal troubles in the UK, however, stem from allegations of sexual assault in Sweden, which were dropped last year. Assange feared Sweden would extradite him to the US, which is why he sought refuge in Ecuador. That, however, violated the conditions of his bail, according to the British High Court.

@RT_com Roger Waters displays pro-Assange message at Berlin gig 

Ecuador is continuing its effort to get Assange out of embassy without him being arrested. The plans have been met with resistance by the British government.

READ MORE: Ecuador will respect Assange’s asylum right if he obeys ‘no politics’ condition

In addition to the secret US documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, WikiLeaks published emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and private emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, in the month before the 2016 US presidential election. US intelligence officials have accused WikiLeaks of being a “hostile foreign intelligence service.”

Assange fears that if he leaves the embassy, he will be arrested by the British authorities and extradited to the US, where he would be charged under the Espionage Act.

  • Published in World

Back to ‘normal’? Ecuador withdraws Assange’s extra security at London embassy

he president of Ecuador has ordered the withdrawal of enhanced security from the country’s London embassy, which was assigned to protect Julian Assange, who remains holed up there to avoid possible deportation to the US.

The Ecuadorian government “will maintain normal security similar to the level of security at all other Ecuadorean embassies in the rest of the world,” Lenin Moreno, national secretary of communication, said in a statement. He added that “additional security at the Ecuadorian embassy” in London will be withdrawn immediately.

Assange has been residing at the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK since August 2012, after British judges denied his appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning in connection with sexual assault accusations.

The Australian native, whose WikiLeaks whistleblowing website published secret documents pertaining to US national security, feared that Sweden would extradite him to the US. There, he could face a similar fate as Chelsea Manning, who was court-martialed and sentenced to 35 years behind bars for violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses. Manning was subsequently pardoned by former president Barack Obama after seven years in prison.

Eventually, Assange became an Ecuadorian citizen but remains trapped inside the walls of the embassy, despite the fact that Sweden has abandoned its extradition request. The UK authorities still have an active arrest warrant against the 46-year old for skipping bail back in 2012.

READ MORE: Ecuador’s new rules ban Assange from taking visitors and phone calls – WikiLeaks

Earlier this week, The Guardian reported that Ecuador has spent $5 million accommodating Julian Assange in its UK embassy. Moreno’s predecessor, Rafael Correa, blasted the report as a “sensationalized story,” and said that there is “nothing unusual” about providing extra security. He argued that his government “spent what amounts to a small amount of money” for that purpose.

  • Published in World

Ecuador’s new rules ban Assange from taking visitors and phone calls – WikiLeaks

Julian Assange has been hit with new rules limiting his communications by officials at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The new measures include bans on using the phone and having visitors, according to WikiLeaks.

READ MORE: Assange Twitter account back tweeting as #ReconnectJulian campaign takes over

The founder of the whistleblowing website has reportedly found himself isolated within the embassy recently. In March, he had his internet access curtailed after taking to Twitter to criticize Britain’s response to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, as well as repeated comments about Spain’s dispute with Catalonia. At the time, the Ecuadorian government said Assange had breached a written commitment “not to issue messages that might interfere with other states.”

Speaking with the foreign press Wednesday, Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa confirmed that Assange was still being denied internet access while talks between the UK and Ecuador to decide on his fate are still ongoing.

"He still has no access to the Internet and communications. There is a dialogue, there is a will and an interest to move forward in the solution of that matter," he said, according to El Tiempo.

WikiLeaks claims Assange has been silenced because of pressure from the US. The website also says the description of the measures as a “social media ban” undersells the extent to which he’s being held “incommunicado.”

READ MORE: 'Assange is a war hero, he exposed American war crimes' – Vivienne Westwood

Assange has been a resident in the embassy in Knightsbridge in central London since June 2012. He had been facing extradition to Sweden over allegations he sexually assaulted two women, but he fled to the embassy after violating his bail, claiming he feared Sweden might extradite him to the US, where he would face charges over WikiLeaks’ release of classified US government cables and documents. He remains subject to arrest in the UK for jumping his bail.

  • Published in World

Ecuador: Government Confirms Death of Kidnapped Journalists

Journalist Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and driver Efrain Segarra were kidnapped in Ecuador's northern border in Esmeraldas.

Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno has confirmed the death of the three Ecuadorean journalists kidnapped on the border with Colombia last month. "We haven't received proof of life," Moreno said in a televised statement. "And regrettably we have information that confirms the murder of the journalists."

RELATED: Photos Show Bodies of Kidnapped Ecuador Journalists

Speaking during a press conference with national and international media Friday, Moreno added the state's security operations will resume in the north border and announces the Colombian Defense Minister is in the country to coordinate actions in the northern border.

"We have restarted the military operations which were suspended in the area of the border strip, and I have immediately arranged the deployment of elite armed forces units and the national police to that territory. We are mourning but we will not let ourselves be intimidated, today more than ever I ask the country for unity for peace," Moreno said.

Late Thursday, Ecuador's free speech advocacy group Fundamedios posted on Twitter that it had "received photographs from a Colombian media outlet related to the situation of the kidnapped journalistic team. We have made the authorities and the families aware, and we are waiting for any official confirmation."

Moreno returned to Ecuador's capital, Quito, late Thursday, after making an early departure from the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru to deal with the situation.

Journalist Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas, and driver Efrain Segarra were kidnapped on March 26 in Ecuador's northern border in Esmeraldas while reporting on a series of violent attacks against Ecuadorean security forces.

On Wednesday, a statement purportedly by Frente Olive Sinisterra ('Oliver Sinisterra Front') said the three El Comercio staff kidnapped by the group last month had been killed, blaming the governments of Ecuador and Colombia for their deaths.

"The Ecuadorean government and Colombian minister did not want to save the lives of the three detained; they did it with the military landing in various points near the place where the men were detained, which resulted in the death of the two journalists and the driver," the statement read.

Frente Olive Sinisterra, the organization, believed to be responsible for the kidnappings, is described by the Colombian government as a splinter, dissident group from the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The group has no connection with the democratic political party the Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons, also known as FARC, which was formed after the group's demobilization.

The Oliver Sinisterra Front is led by 'El Guacho,' real name: Walter Patricio Artizala Vernaza. Colombia and Ecuador have disputed his nationality: Ecuadorean authorities claim he is Colombian, while Colombian authorities claim he is Ecuadorean.

The Ecuadorean government said on Tuesday that it was not negotiating with the kidnappers, but was analyzing "every possibility" to secure their release. Details were not forthcoming.

Ecuador's Interior Minister Cesar Navas had previously said there was "dialogue" and a "technical police operation." On April 5, President Lenin Moreno said the government was in talks with "intermediaries" to determine the state of the hostages.

The journalists were investigating the rise in violence in the Esmeraldas border region following a series of deadly bombings targeting Ecuadorean security forces. Some observers say 'El Guacho' has been attempting to control the drug trade in the region.

  • Published in World

Cuba and Ecuador sign agreement on Education

Cuba and Ecuador signed an agreement of cooperation and mutual recognition of professional diplomas and homologation of Higher Education studies, as part of the activities of the 11th International Congress Universidad 2018.

Both countries were represented by Jose Ramon Saborido, Cuba´s Minister of that sector; and Augusto Barreras, Secretary of Higher Education, Science and Technology in the Andean nation.

Saborido told ACN that the agreement includes all areas of higher education, will influence the development of institutions and will provide solutions to the demands and challenges that society imposes.

The agreement will enhance academic and scientific exchange, the formation of human resources, the realization of joint projects, undergraduate and postgraduate training and will not be applied to a specific university, but will include the system of Ecuadorian universities, whether public or private, Saborido said.

Maria Augusta Calle, Ecuadoran Ambassador in Havana, told ACN that her country's interest in establishing this type of ties is not new, but is the result of the effort that has been made for 10 years.

There is a large number of Ecuadorian students who are studying or have graduated in Cuba, hence the recognition of their university degrees is essential for the validation of their studies, the diplomat noted.

Similarly, we have a lot of cooperation from Cuban professionals in Ecuador, and they also need the validation of their diplomas to better perform their activities, she added.

Ecuador is one of the foreign delegations with the highest representation in Universidad 2018, event attended by two thousand delegates from some 60 countries, with headquarters in Havana´s Conventions Palace until tomorrow.

  • Published in Cuba

Assange: Claims UK Court Arrest Warrant Upheld 'Fake News', Hearing Is Underway

In January, Julian Assange's advocates made an application to the court, explaining that his breach of former bail conditions was no longer valid as Sweden had withdrawn the European arrest warrant and proceedings against Assange had ended.

Julian Assange has dismissed the allegations suggesting that a UK court upheld an arrest warrant against him as "fake news," adding that the hearing was still underway.

"Wall to wall fake news stating … the government won today's hearing. Nothing of the sort has happened. The hearing is still happening. Only one point has been ruled on," he posted on his Twitter account.

@JulianAssange Wall to wall fake news stating stating the government won today's hearing. Nothing of the sort has happened. The hearing is still happening. Only one point has been ruled on.
@JulianAssange Here's Canada's state TV pumping out fake news. The hearing is still on right now. We only lost the first of four points. I was never charged. My asylum was over US extradition and Sweden dropped its so-called "preliminary investigation" a year ago.

Being afraid of extradition to the United States over his whistleblowing organization's exposure of classified documents, Assange has been living at Ecuador's embassy in London since summer 2012, being granted political asylum, thereby breaching his bail conditions.

READ MORE: 'Brilliant Idea' on Assange, Ecuador and Britain: Is the Matter Headed to ICJ?

In December 2017, Ecuador granted naturalization (the legal process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire its citizenship) to Assange. Ecuador's Foreign Ministry explained the move by saying that they feared third party states may threaten his life.

The UK issued a warrant in 2012, and he would have been arrested for skipping bail to avoid extradition to Sweden to face an allegation of rape if he attempted to leave the embassy. Despite the fact that the Swedish case has been dropped, the British authorities consider that he breached his bail conditions.

Julian Assange has been in hiding since he released thousands of classified US military documents and diplomatic cables on his whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in 2010.

  • Published in World

Ecuador: Correa 'Attacked' While Campaigning in Esmeraldas

Correa's life was reportedly threatened by violent opposition members who surrounded a radio station where he was being interviewed.

Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa has denounced an attack carried out on his motorcade and a building where he was being interviewed in Quininde, a city in the northern province of Esmeraldas.

RELATED: Ecuador's Referendum: Conciliation or 'Coup'?

According to a series of tweets posted by Correa and local media reports he was being interviewed at Radio Magia’s building when the individuals encircled the building and vandalized vehicles that formed part of his motorcade.

“The situation is very serious in Quininde. The radio where I was being interviewed is surrounded by people from the city council led by some people from the MPD (Popular Democratic Party), who were also in Brobón. I am sorry for the country! I embrace our beloved Quininde. Many people waited for the caravan,” Correa stated.

He also said leaders of the aggression had armed bodyguards and claimed they threatened his life and physical integrity. During an interview with TeleSUR, Correa claimed they were waiting for police protection to leave the radio station.  

Supporters of president Lenin Moreno's referendum (locally known as popular consultation) allegedly participated in the attack. In a video uploaded to multiple social media platforms, one attacker can be seen wearing a t-shirt supporting the referendum. 

"#UltimoMinuto (LastMinute) Aggression against #Ecuador former president Rafael Correa's caravan has been denounced. The radio where he was being interviewed in the province of #Esmeraldas had been surrounded. Rafael Correa confirmed the situation is serious. #ConsultaPopular2018 (#PopularConsultation2018)."

Correa's caravan was vandalized by the opposition members. "@MasiRafael caravan was attacked in the city of #Quininde, in the province of #Esmeraldas."

Ricardo Patiño, one of Correa's closest allies has said "it is the national government's responsibility to provide security for a former president. That is intelligence and efficacy."   
  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed