Ecuador's president says Assange tried to use its embassy to spy

Lamar Ellis
April 15, 2019

Assange was seized by plain clothes police officers on April 11 during dramatic scenes that saw him expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

President Moreno of Ecuador said in an interview that Assange had "bothered and threatened guards; [and] hit and mistreated employees of the embassy".

Ecuadoran President Lenin Moreno on Sunday defended his decision to overturn Julian Assange's asylum status, claiming in an interview with the Guardian newspaper that the WikiLeaks founder had tried to set up a "centre for spying" in Ecuador's London embassy.

Moreno insisted it was Assange's actions against other democratic countries, taken while he lived in Ecuador's embassy for seven years, that had led to the eviction.

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The comments in an interview with The Guardian newspaper show the degradation of Assange's relationship with Ecuador, which allowed him to stay in the London embassy for almost seven years.

Moreno denied to the Guardian that he had acted as a reprisal for the way in which documents about his family had been leaked.

"We can not allow our house, the house that opened its doors, to become a centre for spying", Mr Moreno has told the newspaper.

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Assange had entered the embassy on June 19, 2012 after losing his battle against extradition to Sweden where he faced numerous allegations, including rape.

Dubbed "Collateral Murder", the footage prompted worldwide concern over the conduct of U.S. forces stationed in the Middle East, something supporters of WikiLeaks argue remains behind Washington's renewed drive to extradite Assange to face charges in the United States.

He faces up to 12 months in jail in the United Kingdom over breaking bail conditions., and possible extradition to the U.S. over WikiLeaks' release of sensitive USA military documents.

Ecuadorian president Lenín Moreno had previously chastised Assange for skateboarding indoors, urging him to change some of his behaviour inside the embassy, including spending more time cleaning up after his pet cat.

"I think the first thing to say is Ecuador has been making some pretty outrageous allegations over the past few days to justify what was an unlawful and extraordinary act in allowing British police to come inside an embassy".

U.K. Home Secretary Sajid Javid would be expected to have the final say in which extradition claim takes priority, if Sweden does file a new one.

Although Swedish authorities abandoned their case against Assange in 2017, supporters of WikiLeaks have long feared his possible extradition could ultimately involve his relocation to the United States, where he remains wanted over his role in the leaking of classified military and diplomatic cables from 2010 onward.

Assange's next court appearance is scheduled for May 2.

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