Ecuador Rejects Reports on Assange but It Admits New Protocol

Ecuador on Wednesday rejected reports about pressure from UN officials on the government, regarding the situation of Julian Assange, but it accepted to implement a new Special Protocol to maintain his asylum status.

'The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador rejects with indignation such stories and underlines that the president of the Republic did not even discuss the issue of Mr. Assange's asylum with the United Nations high commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, or with the United Nations special rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, David Kaye,' an official statement said.

According to the press release, the fake reports aim to maintain that UN officials pressured Ecuador to make the decision to issue a Special Protocol with regulations on the minimum conditions of the asylum seeker's stay at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

In the document, the Ministry explained that the UN and UNHCR representatives in Ecuador, who participated in the meetings, corroborated in statements to the media that the issue was not dealt with in any of the gatherings.

It also added that according to the specifications of Filippo Grandi, the founder of WikiLeaks, the portal published thousands of classified documents from several countries, mainly the United States, is not a refugee, but an asylum seeker in a diplomatic mission and therefore, the issue is outside the jurisdiction of its organization.

After insisting that the information published by digital media 'shamelessly' tried to note the pressure exerted on the national government, the Foreign Ministry concluded: 'Nothing further from the truth: Ecuador is a sovereign State, which takes its foreign policy decisions with autonomy and looking only at the defense of its national interests, with strict adherence to international law.'

The official statement was issued in response to news published by several sites that mentioned a 10-page Special Protocol, with indications on the payment of food, laundry and medical care (which will also be strictly regulated), visiting regime and the use of communications, which Assange must comply with, in order to maintain his condition as asylum seeker.

Ecuador Rejects Reports on Assange but It Admits New Protocol

Ecuador on Wednesday rejected reports about pressure from UN officials on the government, regarding the situation of Julian Assange, but it accepted to implement a new Special Protocol to maintain his asylum status.

'The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador rejects with indignation such stories and underlines that the president of the Republic did not even discuss the issue of Mr. Assange's asylum with the United Nations high commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, or with the United Nations special rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, David Kaye,' an official statement said.

According to the press release, the fake reports aim to maintain that UN officials pressured Ecuador to make the decision to issue a Special Protocol with regulations on the minimum conditions of the asylum seeker's stay at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

In the document, the Ministry explained that the UN and UNHCR representatives in Ecuador, who participated in the meetings, corroborated in statements to the media that the issue was not dealt with in any of the gatherings.

It also added that according to the specifications of Filippo Grandi, the founder of WikiLeaks, the portal published thousands of classified documents from several countries, mainly the United States, is not a refugee, but an asylum seeker in a diplomatic mission and therefore, the issue is outside the jurisdiction of its organization.

After insisting that the information published by digital media 'shamelessly' tried to note the pressure exerted on the national government, the Foreign Ministry concluded: 'Nothing further from the truth: Ecuador is a sovereign State, which takes its foreign policy decisions with autonomy and looking only at the defense of its national interests, with strict adherence to international law.'

The official statement was issued in response to news published by several sites that mentioned a 10-page Special Protocol, with indications on the payment of food, laundry and medical care (which will also be strictly regulated), visiting regime and the use of communications, which Assange must comply with, in order to maintain his condition as asylum seeker.

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Ecuador To Partly Restore Internet Access For Julian Assange

London: The Ecuadorian government will partially restore communications for Julian Assange at the country's embassy in London, Wikileaks said.

The Wikileaks founder, who has been holed up at the embassy since 2012, was stopped from using the internet or a mobile phone to communicate with the outside world in March.

"Ecuador has told WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange that it will remove the isolation regime imposed on him following meetings between two senior UN officials and Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno on Friday," Wikileaks said in a statement on Sunday.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, Wikileaks editor in chief, described the move as "positive" but said it is "of grave concern that his freedom to express his opinions is still limited".

The decision to cut off Assange's communications was taken because the Australian had broken a 2017 promise to not interfere in other countries' affairs while in the mission, the Ecuadorian government said at the time. 

It came days after he used Twitter to challenge Britain's accusation that Russia was responsible for the nerve agent poisoning of a Russian former double agent in the English city of Salisbury. 

He also attacked the arrest in Germany of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont under an EU warrant issued by Spain over Puigdemont's failed bid last year to declare independence for his Spanish region. 

Ecuador installed a jammer to prevent him from accessing email and restricted the number of visitors he can receive.

Assange took refuge in the diplomatic mission in 2012 after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault there.

Assange claims the accusations were politically motivated and could lead to him being extradited to the United States to face imprisonment over WikiLeaks' publication of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.

Sweden dropped its investigation last year, but British authorities say they still want to arrest him for breaching his bail conditions.

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Ecuador gets UN praise for ‘freedom of expression’ as Assange remains gagged in embassy limbo

A UN official praised Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno for his treatment of journalists despite the fact that the leader is said to be preparing to hand over WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to the governments persecuting him.

UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye commended Ecuador and Moreno for supposedly promoting freedom of speech – the same Moreno that recently cut off communications to fugitive whistleblower Julian Assange and has been mulling handing him over to the UK and the US to be tried as a spy.

Assange, the co-founder of WikiLeaks, was granted political asylum by Moreno’s predecessor Rafael Correa in 2012 and became an Ecuadorian citizen in December 2017. In order to hand Assange over, Moreno would have to strip him of that citizenship first, as Ecuador’s extradition treaty with the UK precludes turning over its own citizens.

 
Moreno’s government invited Kaye to meet Ecuadorian authorities, journalists, academics, and civil society groups during a recent visit. The UN official was briefed on “ongoing legal and policy changes” instituted by Moreno, who has taken a hard right turn from the government of his predecessor Correa, most notably in resuming military cooperation with the US.

Kaye’s fulsome praise for the Moreno government rang especially hollow where he discussed whistleblowing and the internet: “He also urged strong promotion for independent journalism and the safety of journalists […] including by developing strong whistleblower protections for both public officials and private employees; and several steps to improve the rights people in Ecuador enjoy online.”

Assange is famous for developing WikiLeaks as a secure, anonymous platform for whistleblowers. His supporters were outraged when Moreno revoked his internet access earlier this year, leaving him completely cut off from the outside world. Moreno has maintained that he will respect Assange’s asylum as long as the journalist doesn’t engage in “political activity,” but he remains incommunicado despite this promise.

By inviting Kaye to visit Ecuador, Moreno may hope to preempt some of the international outrage that would result from sending an Ecuadorian citizen off to possibly spend decades in prison for doing journalistic work. Assange, after all, merely published information that he was given by whistleblowers, as journalists have for hundreds of years. Such acts are protected by US and UK law. But since some of that information concerned the shady conduct of American diplomats, military, and spies, Washington treats Assange as an enemy of the state. And once the UK has custody of Assange, it is assumed he will be transferred to the US.

Assange's last video before communications cut at Ecuadorian Embassy in London (FULL)

Assange is not the only Ecuadorian who Moreno has betrayed. Correa himself, who gave Moreno his blessing as his successor, was forced to flee to Belgium earlier this year after what he claims was a politically motivated prosecution for the alleged 2012 kidnapping of a political opponent. Correa turned on his protege after Moreno proposed a constitutional referendum that would have barred Correa from running for office again, and Moreno – whom he now calls a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” – has since overturned many of his predecessor’s reforms.

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Assange's Defense Attorney Denounces Risks to Client's Health

Assange's lawyer stressed the Wiki founder's wavering health which the Ecuadorean embassy is failing to properly moderate.

WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange’s health is at risk after being held without medical attention in the Ecuadorean Embassy in the UK since 2012, defense attorney Jennifer Robinson said Saturday.

RELATED: Julian Assange Forced To Name Replacement at WikiLeaks

"We are very concerned about his health: he has been locked up in the embassy for more than six years, without proper access to medical care," said Robinson during an interview with the Catalan publication, Nacio Digital.

The lawyer stressed her client’s wavering health, which, she said, the embassy is unable to properly moderate due to lack of proper medical equipment and facilities.

"The Embassy is not equipped for prolonged detention to provide a reasonable environment...the prolonged uncertainty of indefinite detention deeply affects the psychological and physical trauma above and beyond the expected stressors of incarceration," the Australian lawyer said.

Robinson also showed concern over the “very serious” threat of Assange’s extradition to the United States for trial, “If Assange faces a trial in the US, he can not benefit from the first amendment of the Constitution, which refers to freedom of the press.

“We can not forget that he is only an editor who published material of public interest,” Robinson said.

The defense lawyer also explained the recent change in Ecuador’s administration has only served to complicate the case, which she described as a 180-degree change in political position between President Rafael Correa to his predecessor, the incumbent President Lenin Moreno, particularly in regards to bilateral relations with the United States.

On March 28, just days after hosting a delegation of the United States Southern Command (Southcom), Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno decided to cut his guest’s communications with the outside world, denying him access to the internet and banning visitors who are not part of his legal team.

Julian Assange was granted political asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in the UK in 2012. Assange faced extradition to Sweden, from England, over allegations he sexually assaulted two women, which he categorically denied.

Although the judicial process for the alleged sexual crimes in Sweden was lifted, he fears that if he is given to British authorities he could face prison for skipping bail and face extradition to the United States, where he would be tried for espionage and could be sentenced to death for exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Julian Assange Forced To Name Replacement at WikiLeaks

Icelander Kristinn Hrafnsson has been named as Assange's replacement. He is an investigative journalist who was selected as Icelandic journalist of the year in 2010.

In a statement published on Wednesday, WikiLeaks announced that Julian Assange is no longer the Editor-in-Chief "after six months of effective incommunicado detention," but he is still a publisher for the investigative website.

RELATED: Ecuador's Ex-Foreign Minister: Assange Isolation 'Unjustified'

Icelander Kristinn Hrafnsson has been named as Assange's replacement.  He is an "investigative journalist selected in 2010 as Icelandic journalist of the year (his third award) for his role in the Collateral Murder publishing collaboration with Wikileaks," the statement said.

The WikiLeaks statement also highlights the challenging circumstances under which its founder, Assange, has been held "arbitrarily detained in the Ecuadorean embassy," in which he has no access to communications with anybody "except for visits by his lawyers."

On March 28, just days after hosting a delegation of the United States Southern Command (Southcom), Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno decided to cut his guest’s communications with the outside world, denying him access to the internet and banning visitors who are not part of his legal team.

Julian Assange was granted political asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in the UK in 2012. Assange faced extradition to Sweden, from England, over allegations he sexually assaulted two women, which he categorically denied. Although the judicial process for the alleged sexual crimes in Sweden was lifted, he fears that if he is given to British authorities he could face prison for skipping bail and face extradition to the United States, where he would be tried for espionage and could be sentenced to death for exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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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 https://on.rt.com/96pk https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/1003244645030268928 

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.

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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.

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