Assange Granted Ecuador Citizenship to Secure 'Human Rights'

Espinosa said that the government continues to work with the U.K. to “explore alternatives and options to resolve the case.”

After the surprising news was released two days ago, the Ecuadorean government confirmed in a press conference this morning that it WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was given citizenship in the Andean nation.

RELATED: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Granted Ecuadorean Citizenship

In a press conference held today Ecuador’s foreign minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa reaffirmed that Julian Assange was granted Ecuadorean citizenship Dec. 21, 2017. Assange, who has been sheltered in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June 19, 2012 when he was granted political asylum, began the application in September.

She stressed several times that Ecuador is following all national and international laws and is “dedicated to protecting the human rights” of Assange in this “delicate case.”

Despite the confirmed citizenship status, Espinosa said that the government continues to work with the U.K. to “explore alternatives and options to resolve the case.”

The foreign ministers said that her government tried to obtain diplomatic status for the Wikileaks founder within the United Kingdom on Dec. 20, but that the British government immediately denied the asylum seeker such status.

Earlier this week Ecuador's foreign ministry released a statement that read: "Julian Assange received international protection from the Ecuadorean government in August 2012.

"The current government inherited this issue and it's looking for solution alternatives, with full respect of national and international law, as well as human rights... in coordination with the United Kingdom, with which we have the best friendship and cooperation relations."

Assange is committed to not "intervening in issues non-related with his asylum condition," as requested by Ecuadorian government, the statement continued.

The Foreign Office in the UK has confirmed that Assange continues to face arrest for breaching bail conditions if he leaves the embassy premises. He fears that if arrested by UK authorities they he will be extradited to the United States whose government is looking to prosecute Assange for publishing thousands of U.S. classified military and diplomatic documents via his Wikileaks page.

Rumors about Assange's condition were sparked Jan. 1 when he tweeted a 60-character code and a link to the song "Paper Planes" by British singer MIA. The Ecuadorean government has since insisted that "nothing has happened."

In a picture posted Wednesday on his personal Twitter account, Assange appears wearing a jersey from Ecuador's national football team.

The Australian activist now appears in Ecuador's Civil Registry database and holds an identity document: 'Julian Paul Assange' is registered in the Internal Revenue Service with document number 1729926483.

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Ecuador's Correa Returns To Support 'NO' In Referendum

“These people want to end with the division of power, they want to end democracy," stated the ex-president.

Rafael Correa, the former president of Ecuador, announced in a radio interview, that he would return to the country next Thursday, to support the campaign against next month's referendum.

RELATED: Correa Responds After Ecuadorean VP's Guilty Verdict

The plebiscite was proposed by Lenín Moreno, the current president of Ecuador, in order to “strengthen democracy”, and will take place on Feb. 4.

In the interview, Correa stated that he would support the “NO” against three specific points of the seven included in the referendum:

2.- Election of new members of the Civic Participation Council.

3.- Invalidating the amendment that allows indefinite re-election of elected positions.

6.- Restriction of mineral mining.

“These people want to end the division of power, they want to end democracy, go back 20 years and then take the next 20 years for themselves," stated the ex-president, “they may have control of the media, millions of dollars and the government, but we have millions of arms, millions of hearts and millions of minds”.

This is the second time the ex-president is visiting Ecuador after his term ended. Between last November and December, Correa spent ten days in the country, attending several events including a ruling party PAIS Alliance convention. He stated that his visit and the organization against the Moreno faction within the PAIS Alliance was virtually ignored by the media.

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Impeachment Process of VP Glas Authorized by Ecuador's Assembly

Jorge Glas has been sentenced to six years in prison for corruption linked to the sprawling Odebrecht case in what his supporters are calling a 'political witch-hunt.'

A body within the Ecuadorian National Assembly has given the greenlight for an impeachment trial to take place against former Vice-President Jorge Glas after he was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption.

RELATED: Mother of Convicted Former Ecuador VP Appeals to Pope

Four of the seven lawmakers that make up the Legislative Administration Council voted in favor late Tuesday of the motion to authorize the prosecution commission within parliament to begin the impeachment process against Glas. 

The news comes just days after the Constitutional Court unanimously endorsed the launch of impeachment proceedings against the suspended official. The council had previously failed to pass the motion three times becausee of a lack of support in the top court. 

Glas, who was also the vice-president under former president Rafael Correa, now has five days to present his defence against the impeachment to the assembly. He can delegate a lawmaker to carry out his defence, which is likely to be the case given that he is already being held in preventive detention.

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Roberto Gomez, from the right-wing opposition CREO movement leading the case against Glas, also has five days to present his own arguments for impeachment, which will be analyzed to consider whether it meets the parameters established in the constitution.

Glas has been in detention since October, when charges were brought against him over receiving bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in return for awarding the scandal-ridden firm lucrative state contracts.

RELATED: Correa: Lenin Moreno is a 'Wolf in Sheep's Clothing' who was 'With the Opposition

Glas was elected vice-president in the second electoral round last April, with President Lenin Moreno as leader of the left-wing Alianza Pais. He served as vice president since 2013 under Correa, who has been critical of the trial against his ally, accusing the courts of many irregularities and saying that Glas is "innocent."

Lenin ran his presidential campaign under the leftist agenda of his predecessor but has largely broken from Correa and worked to appease right-wing political and economic actors in the country.

Correa and his supporters have accused the new president of “betraying” the ideals of the ruling party AP, which was founded by Correa more than a decade ago and argue that prosecuting Glas is a entirely political.

Odebrecht allegedly paid US$33.5 million in bribes to secure contracts in Ecuador. The opposition says that Correa's government was slow to investigate, although he rejects that.

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Impeachment of Ecuador's Jorge Glas 'Far From Finished'

While significant progress was made on Tuesday with the appointment of Judge Manuel Viter, the process still requires an inordinate amount of work to get underway.

Ecuador's Legislative Administrative Council (CAL) is taking steps to fast-track moves to have former Vice-President Jorge Glas impeached in the shortest possible time, according to reports, but one analyst warns the task will be difficult to complete.

RELATED: Ecuador: Impeachment of VP Jorge Glas Begins

According to an article by Diego Puente in El Comercio, even if the process was completed in shortest possible time, it would take at least 28 days according to the rules established in the Organic Law of the Legislative Function and the Law of Jurisdictional Guarantees.

This estimate doesn't take into consideration that there is no fixed time for some stages of the impeachment proceedings, nor does it consider legal moves by Glas to have them delayed or even halted altogether.

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While significant progress was made Tuesday with the appointment of Judge Manuel Viteri, mandated to give a ruling on the constitutionality of the move by December 22, the process still requires an inordinate amount of work to get underway.

Roberto Gomez, from the Creo movement against the suspended vice-president, must present a case which will then be analysed to consider whether it falls in line with the parameters established in the constitution for impeachment. 

After Viteri reviews and prepares the draft constitutional opinion of the trial request, the President of the Court will convene a plenary session within 24 hours.

The judgment from this meeting will be issued within 48 hours of the presentation of the project and must be approved by two-thirds of the members of the Plenary (at least six of nine votes). 

If the Constitutional Court issues a favorable opinion, President of the Assembly José Serrano will inform the Legislative Administration Council (CAL), for the start of processing, with the case being sent to the Supervisory Commission.

Glas has been in preventive detention since October. On January 2 he will meet the 90 days of imprisonment established by law, so in the first instance the case would opt to remove him for the abandonment of his position rather than impeachment, which would delay the process.

Glas was elected vice-president in the second electoral round last April, with President Lenin Moreno as leader of the left-wing Alianza País. 

RELATED: Ecuador: Correa Warns Coup Underway as Moreno Orders 'Unconstitutional' Referendum Vote

Reacting on Twitter last Wednesday, former president Rafael Correa denounced the sentence as condemning "an innocent." 

"A trial full of so many irregularities will have to go to the international bodies, but they already have their objective: to seize the vice presidency," Correa wrote.

"The same script as with Dilma, Lula, Cristina. It's all a matter of time, and our people will react."

Glas' defense counsel, Eduardo Franco Loor, has also announced that he will appeal the six-year sentence, which he described as "iniquitous" and "barbaric," insisting that his client will not resign.

"The temporary suspension of the sentence will be requested immediately, as established by the regulations so that the vice president can recover his freedom as soon as possible," Loor said. "Of course, he will continue as vice president of the country."

The sentence was handed down by Edgar Flores Mier, who granted Attorney General Carlos Baca's requested six-year jail sentence. Baca argued that "the prosecution has presented the evidence with which it based its trial, and now it is up to the judges to establish culpability or ratify innocence."

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Glas and his uncle Ricardo Rivera were two of nine people accused of criminal conduct in connection with the sprawling Latin American corruption case. Odebrecht has admitted paying US$788 million in bribes to officials in Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Peru and the Dominican Republic.

 

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WikiLeaks’ Assange defies Ecuadorian warnings, will publish any evidence of corruption

Responding to comments from newly elected Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno warning Julian Assange not to ‘interfere’ in South American politics, WikiLeaks’ founder said Ecuador can be “confident” that any evidence of corruption will still be published.

Speaking at a ceremony at the Cochasqui archeological site in the Northern Andes on Thursday, President Moreno “respectfully” called on Assange “not to interfere in Ecuadorian politics, nor in the politics of its allies.”

@JulianAssange Ecuadorians can be confident that if WikiLeaks receives evidence of corruption in Ecuador it will be published.

@JulianAssange In any instance where there is a genuine legal barrier to me being the publisher I will recuse myself and my replacement will publish.

“His status does not allow him to talk about the politics of any country, let alone ours,” he said, according to CapitalNews.

In response, Assange, who is still under virtual house arrest inside Ecuador’s London embassy, sent out a series of tweets that seemed to imply he would fulfill his duty as a journalist to work in the “public interest,” regardless of the embassy’s hospitality.

He added that if there are any legal barriers to him publishing, he will find alternatives to assure that the material reaches the public.

Despite the warning, Moreno, who took office on Wednesday, also said his country “will ensure” Britain “allows the transfer of Mr. Assange to Ecuador or to the country in which he wishes to reside.”

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 in order to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face sex offence allegations.

 
© Stefan Wermuth

 

Although Swedish prosecutors dropped the case last week, British police say Assange could still be arrested for breaching bail conditions, which has forced him to remain in the embassy.

If arrested, Assange fears he will be extradited to the US for leaking classified material.

Appearing on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy last Friday, Assange said there is still much to do before he can walk free.

“We have today won an important victory, but the road is far from over. The proper war is just commencing.

“The claim that the UK has the right to arrest me for seeking asylum in a case where there have been no charges is simply untenable,” Assange remarked.

“My legal staff have contacted the UK authorities and we hope to engage in a dialogue about what is the best way forward,” he noted.

Assange has also pledged that WikiLeaks will carry on publishing material in the US, and even “accelerate” this process.

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Socialist Lenin Moreno sworn in as Ecuador president

QUITO: Lenin Moreno was sworn in as president of Ecuador on Wednesday following a tight race that the disabled former vice president won on promises of maintaining the social programs of his leftist predecessor Rafael Correa.

The 64-year-old Moreno, a socialist, last month won a runoff vote in the oil-exporting country, bucking a shift to the right in South America as leftist governments struggle to maintain support.

Guillermo Lasso, a former banker, called for a recount after losing the runoff election. The electoral council upheld Moreno's 2.3 percent margin of victory.

Moreno, one of the world's few paraplegic heads of state, has said he will continue anti-poverty programs. But he has promised a more conciliatory style and more open dialogue with adversaries in contrast to Correa's often combative manner.

During his four-year term, Moreno faces a challenging panorama of a faltering dollarized economy with a heavy debt burden and low oil prices

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Cuban vice-president lays a wreath in honor to Jose Marti in Ecuador

The First Vice-president of the Council of States and Ministers, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, laid a wreath at the monument of Cuba´s National Hero Jose Marti.

This is my third visit to this land and we have experienced the same emotions thanks to the friendships of our people, said the Cuban vice-president while greeting those who attended the ceremony in Pichincha.

Diaz-Canel Bermudez arrived in Ecuador yesterday morning accompanied by deputy minister of Foreign Affairs Ana Teresita Gonzalez in order to attend the presidential inauguration of Lenin Moreno.

I want to salute Lenin Moreno and the Alianza Pais Movement. Both are the leading figures of a victory that transcends Ecuador to become a triumph for Latin America.

The also member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba confirmed Cuba´s support to the Ecuadorian people and their Citizens’ Revolution, their achievements, “in the spirit of moving forward in our relationship.”

He also recalled patriot Eloy Alfaro and his relation with Cuba. He fondly addressed to that great man, son of Ecuador.

Likewise, Miguel Diaz-Canel recalled how the province of Pichincha was the first in Ecuador to declare itself free of illiteracy thanks to the Cuban educational method Yo, si Puedo.

In that sense, he affirmed that it was paramount “that our people learn how to read and write to understand the possibility of a better world,” as our historical leader, Fidel, noted.

On the other hand, Gustavo Baroja, prefect of Pichincha, said that Marti, along with Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin, is one of the main figures in the emancipation process of America.

Baroja also stated that Ecuador is influenced by Marti since the country, in its educational system, has lots of Marti’s thoughts.

“Today, 122 years after his death, Marti’s fundamentals, ethic and human principles are still valid.”

Cuban ambassador in Ecuador Rafael Dausa, as well as officials from the Cuban embassy, attended the ceremony.

After the end of the activity, Diaz-Canel and the accompanying delegation toured the Equatorial and Ethnography Museum of the Middle of the World City where specialists answered all of his questions.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Ecuador's President-Elect Lenin Announces Diverse Cabinet

“This team will be committed to serve, to strengthen national development, to generate decent jobs and eradicate poverty,” Moreno said.

One day before his inauguration ceremony, Ecuador's president-elect Lenin Moreno announced Tuesday the names of his cabinet, affirming the team had been “responsibly” created so that it would “reflect this new stage in the country’s history and our political process: diversity, unity and dialogue.”

RELATED: World Leftist Leaders Pay Tribute to Ecuador's Rafael Correa

He affirmed the ministers were professionals, members of the Citizens' Revolution, people from different social and political sectors, groups and nationalities.

“This team will be committed to serve, to strengthen national development, to generate decent jobs and eradicate poverty,” he added on his Twitter account.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa will be the new minister of Foreign Affairs, Cesar Navas will serve as minister of the Interior; Rosana Alavarado as minister of Justice; Fander Falconi, Education; Carlos de la Torre, Economy; Miguel Carvajal, Defense; Eva Garcia, Industries; Enrique Ponce de Leon, Tourism; Carlos Perez, Hydrocarbons; Ivan Espinel, Economic and Social Inclusion; Veronica Espinosa, Health; Raul Perez Torres, Culture; Guillermo Leon, Telecommunication; Pablo Campana, Foreign Trade; Medardo Cadena, Electricity; Javier Cordova, Mines; Andrea Sotomayor, Sports; Raul Ledesma, Labor; Tarcisio Granizo, Environment; Vanessa Cordero, Agriculture; Ana Drouet, Aquiculture; Maria Alejandra Vicuña, Urban Development and Housing; and Paul Granda, Transport.

Moreno appointed Andres Mideros as the new National Planing Secretary, Paola Pabon as National Secretary of Political Management; Alex Mora the new Communication Secretary, Johana Pesantez the new Legal Adviser and Eduardo Mangas as secretary general of the presidency.

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Quito’s former Mayor Augusto Barrera has been appointed Secretary of Education, Science and Technology, Humberto Cholango will serve as Water Secretary, Alexandra Ocles will be the new Risk Management Secretary; Rommy Vallejo, secretary of Intelligence; Carlos Bernal as Technical Secretary for Reconstruction and former minister of Justice Ledy Zuñiga was appointed Drugs Secretary.

Moreno also created a new Technical Secretariat for his program, “Toda una Vida” which will be led by Carmen Cabezas.

The cabinet will be sworn-in Wednesday at 7.30 p.m. after the inauguration ceremony.

Additionally, the president-elect appointed Virgilio Hernandez as presidential adviser for Habitat and Environment and Patricio Rivera as presidential adviser for Economic Policy.

Other officials include Jorge Wated, appointed head of the Coordinating Company of Public Enterprises; Santiago Leon, president of the National Financial Corporation; Veronica Artola, manager at Ecuador’s Central Bank; Richard Martinez will continue serving as head of the Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security, as well as Leonardo Orlando who leads the Internal Revenue Service.

Nicolas Issa will be in charge of the Public Sector’s Real Estate Management; Mauro Andino, National Customs Service; and Enma Arevalo will be the new director of Contracting Works Service.

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