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Montevideo, April 22nd 2019 - 02:14 UTC

Assange cries humanitarian grounds and sues Ecuador over living conditions

Saturday, October 20th 2018 - 13:14 UTC
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Julian Assange, a cyber-hero to some or a criminal who undermined the security of the West by exposing secrets, is living at Ecuador's embassy in London under worsening conditions to avoid arrest. Julian Assange, a cyber-hero to some or a criminal who undermined the security of the West by exposing secrets, is living at Ecuador's embassy in London under worsening conditions to avoid arrest.

“Julian Assange launched a case Friday accusing the government of Ecuador of violating his fundamental rights and freedoms,” read a WikiLeaks statement. The case has been slated to be heard in a domestic court next week.

 “Julian Assange launched a case Friday accusing the government of Ecuador of violating his fundamental rights and freedoms,” read a WikiLeaks statement. The case has been slated to be heard in a domestic court next week.

WikiLeaks said the government of Ecuador refused a visit by Human Rights Watch general counsel Dinah PoKempner, who has likened Ecuador's isolation to “solitary confinement”, and had not allowed several meetings with his lawyers.

Heading Assange's legal team is former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who traveled to Ecuador to start the proceedings.

Despite being protected by Ecuador, Assange was held “incommunicado” at the embassy in London in March for failing to comply with his “written commitment not to publish messages that constituted interference in the relationship with other states,” Quito said at the time when restrictions were imposed to cut Assange's contact with the outside world.

These measures include installing three signal inhibitors in the embassy to prevent telephone calls and access to the Internet and also censoring journalists who seek to interview Assange.

“It is not a comfortable situation, it is an inhuman situation in any case because the solution is being extended over time,” Garzón had told reporters on Thursday in the Ecuadorian town of Ambato. The former Spanish magistrate said Assange's is a humanitarian case.

WikiLeaks also said the government of Ecuador refused a visit by Human Rights Watch general counsel Dinah PoKempner, who has likened Ecuador's isolation to “solitary confinement”, and had not allowed several meetings with his lawyers.

Quito gave asylum to Assange in 2012, who took refuge in the legation to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he was wanted for alleged sex charges now dropped.

However, the 47-year-old Australian now fears that if he leaves the embassy he can be detained and extradited to the United States for spreading thousands of official secrets of that country through his website.

The British judiciary maintains an arrest warrant against him for having violated the conditions of his parole in the Swedish case, by taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy.

The Ecuadorian government notified Assange in August the application of a special protocol to regulate the “minimum conditions of stay of the asylee”, which establishes that he will only “have access to the Internet by connecting to the Wi-Fi service” of the legation and sets rules for visitors and even health, stating that non-compliance can lead to the “termination of asylum.”

Assange's lawyers question the legality of this protocol, which, according to the statement, makes “Assange's political asylum depend on the censorship of his freedom of opinion, expression and association.”

“The protocol states that the embassy can confiscate the property of Mr. Assange or his visitors and, without a court order, deliver it to the authorities of the United Kingdom,” the statement said.

Other requirements Assange needs to meet to avoid expulsion include since this week, a set of house rules including better looking after his cat and cleaning his bathroom.

In July, Ecuador's president Lenín Moreno said the whistleblower must leave the embassy eventually.

The protocol also requires journalists, his lawyers and anyone else seeking to see Julian Assange to disclose private or political details, such as their social media usernames, the serial numbers and codes of their phones and tablets, with Ecuador - which the protocol says the government may “share with other agencies”.

Under the presente conditions, the Embassy may seize the property of Mr Assange or his visitors and, without a warrant, hand it over to UK authorities, according to the statement.

Despite the rape allegation against Assange being dropped, he has refused to leave the embassy while a separate UK arrest warrant for breaching his bail conditions remains in effect.

He lost a bid to have the bail offence thrown out earlier this year by a judge who described Assange as feeling “he is above the law”.

The WikiLeaks founder says he fears extradition to the United States for questioning over the activities of the website if he leaves the building in leafy Knightsbridge.

WikiLeaks caused an international storm in 2010 when it published a series of leaks from US soldier Chelsea Manning.

The leaks enraged Washington and included thousands of secret US diplomatic cables that were highly critical of world leaders, including Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's royal family.

He was seen as a cyber-hero by some for exposing government abuses of power and championing free speech, but to others he was viewed as a criminal who undermined the security of the West by exposing secrets.

He has recently been accused of speaking to Russian hackers trying to block the election of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 United States presidential election.

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