April 21, 2019
Latest News

Ecuador jilted Assange as it strengthened US ties

 Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain, Apr. 11, 2019. EPA-EFE/FILE/STRINGER

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain, Apr. 11, 2019. EPA-EFE/FILE/STRINGER

London, Apr 15 (efe-epa).- Ecuador's diplomatic protection of Julian Assange once allowed the small Andean nation's leftist government to antagonize its United States foe and argue that it was defending free speech, while cracking down on the press at home, according to a Dow Jones Newswires report made available to EFE on Monday.

But after seven years and a new government, that relationship frayed, as President Lenín Moreno sought to improve Ecuador's relations with the US.

After calling the WikiLeaks founder an "inherited problem," Moreno on Thursday revoked Assange's asylum, allowing his arrest.

Officials described him as an intolerable tenant at its London embassy, accusing him of blocking security cameras, mistreating guards and once spreading feces on the walls.

"The patience of Ecuador has reached its limit," Moreno said.

Ecuadorian authorities raised the pressure on Friday, disclosing that they had arrested a Swedish WikiLeaks associate a day earlier as part of its investigation into whether Assange tried to destabilize the government.

The man, a software developer named Ola Bini, had visited Assange at Ecuador's embassy in London 12 times, said Interior Minister María Paula Romo, adding that prosecutors were still probing if he committed a crime.

Efforts to contact Bini weren't successful and it couldn't be determined if he had a lawyer. Romo said earlier this week that Russian hackers had set up shop in Ecuador.

"We aren't going to allow Ecuador to be turned into a center for hacking, " she said. "And we can't allow illegal activities developed in the country to harm citizens from Ecuador or other countries or any government."

Public cracks in Ecuador's patience with Assange emerged toward the end of the administration of Rafael Correa, the leftist leader who granted the asylum in 2012 and who criticized Moreno's decision, calling him a traitor.

In October 2016, Correa temporarily restricted Assange's internet access after WikiLeaks began publishing messages apparently sent and received by Hillary Clinton's top aide John Podesta related to the 2016 US election.

When he took over the presidency in 2017, Moreno, a former vice president under Correa, was expected to continue his predecessor's policies, including asylum for Assange.

However, he quickly took a different path, setting off a bitter feud between the two men and raising doubts about how long Assange would be allowed to remain at the embassy.

Central to Moreno's shift was an interest in deepening ties with the US Moreno, a 66-year-old who uses a wheelchair since being shot during a robbery two decades ago, ended Ecuador's alliance with Venezuela and a leftist bloc of nations, choosing instead to pursue a trade deal with Washington.

He has sought to renegotiate Chinese oil-backed loans and signed a bailout package with the International Monetary Fund to shore up a troubled economy.

The new president described Assange as a "stone in our shoe" who was hurting Ecuador's relations with other countries, Dow Jones added in a report made available to EFE.

"This was something that many people thought was coming and at a time when Ecuador is really trying to get closer to the US it makes sense," said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank.

Moreno denied that Ecuador coordinated Assange's eviction with the US, saying it was his country's sovereign right to rescind his asylum.

A US State Department spokeswoman for Western Hemisphere affairs said, "Ecuador, as a sovereign nation, makes its own decision on whom to grant diplomatic asylum."

Ecuador began looking for ways to get Assange to leave. It granted him Ecuadorean citizenship in late 2017, hoping the United Kingdom would provide him with diplomatic status and immunity from arrest if he left the embassy. The UK government denied the request.

In early 2018, the government again restricted Assange's communications, accusing him of breaking a written agreement not to meddle in the affairs of other countries.

The decision came after Assange took to Twitter to criticize the detention of a former Catalan leader and the UK for expelling Russian diplomats following the poisoning of a former Russian spy.

A few months later, Vice President Mike Pence visited Moreno in Quito to discuss trade and a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Ecuadorean officials continued to hold regular meetings with their US counterparts in recent days.

"I think it is very unlikely they didn't talk to the US first" about ending Assange's asylum, said Sebastian Hurtado, president of Profitas, a Quito political-risk consulting firm.

In October, the government laid out a list of rules that Assange would have to follow if he wanted to remain at the embassy, where he lived in a small corner room and received guests including the actress Pamela Anderson, who lashed out at governments in the US, UK and Ecuador.

"You are devils and liars and thieves," she wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

Ecuador's government required Assange to clean the bathroom and take better care of his pet cat. More substantially, it barred Assange from engaging in political meddling.

But Moreno said he repeatedly broke that rule, pointing to WikiLeaks' leaking of Vatican documents this year. He said Assange also installed "electronic and distortion equipment" that are prohibited in the building and accessed embassy security files without permission.

WikiLeaks alleged that Ecuador had conducted an espionage campaign against Assange and secretly cooperated with the US.

Ecuadorean business leaders hope removing Assange from the embassy will speed up talks for a trade agreement with Washington.

Analysts say that Moreno's decision will likely be welcomed by many Ecuadoreans who saw Assange as a nuisance.

"Most people are OK with just having this guy leave the embassy, finally, " said Hurtado, the analyst. "What I always wondered was why they took so long."

By Ryan Dube

dj/hh

News history
Besides electricity, what else does Venezuela lose in a blackout?

By Hector Pereira

12 Killed as militants attack Afghan government ministry

Kabul, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- Five insurgents attacked a government ministry in Kabul, an onslaught that left at least 12 dead and that came two days after the...

Supporters hope Argentina's Fernandez will enter presidential race

Aitor Pereira

Waves of trash expose Rio's environmental deterioration

By Sandra Carnota Mallon

Al-Bashir to be investigated over money-laundering suspicions

Khartoum, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- Sudan’s public attorney on Saturday ordered the African country’s ousted president, Omar al-Bashir, be investigated on...

Gunmen kill 13 at party in Mexico

Veracruz, Mexico, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- Armed men burst into a private party at a restaurant in the southeastern Mexican city of Minatitlan and killed 13...

Farming crisis looms large on India's ongoing general elections

Mathura, India, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- The discontent of farmers, the largest workforce in India, might prove decisive in the ongoing general elections, where...

2 arrested on suspicion of being linked to journalist's death in N. Ireland

London, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- Two teenage men have been arrested on suspicion of having shot and killed a journalist who had been observing disturbances in the...

Hundreds attend former Green Party leader's anti-coal mine rally in Australia

Sydney, Australia (efe-epa).- Around a thousand protesters took part in a rally at Parramatta Park in Sydney on Saturday as part of a countrywide campaign...

Explosion, gunfire as militants target Afghan communications ministry in Kabul

Kabul, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- At least three suicide bombers launched an attack on a post office building in Kabul on Saturday, according to a government...

Egyptians begin to cast ballots in constitution reform referendum

Cairo, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- Egyptians on Saturday started to cast their ballots in a three-day referendum on constitutional reforms that could allow incumbent...

Democratic presidential candidate calls for impeachment trial against Trump

Washington DC, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on Friday urged the House of Representatives to initiate...

Cops scatter opposition protest against Ortega near Managua cathedral

Managua, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- Nicaragua's anti-disturbance police scattered demonstrators protesting against the Daniel Ortega government at the end of the...

Guaido seeks military aid in ousting Venezuelan President Maduro

Caracas, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- Venezuelan National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaido this Friday called on people from all over the country to join in a grand march...

US lawmakers subpoena unredacted version of Mueller Report

Washington, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- The head of the Judiciary Committee in the US House of Representative issued a subpoena Friday for the unedited version of...

Peru's Garcia left suicide note

Lima, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- Peruvian former President Alan Garcia wrote a note before taking his own life to avoid prosecution on corruption charges, his...

Egyptians abroad cast ballots in constitution reform referendum

Cairo, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- Egyptians living abroad Friday began casting their ballots in a referendum on constitutional reforms that could allow current...

Journalist Lyra McKee killed in Derry

London, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- Police in Northern Ireland were on Friday treating journalist Lyra McKee's death as a terror incident and said they believed...

Talks between Afghan leaders, Taliban canceled over delegation dispute

Kabul, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- The first meeting between Taliban and Afghan government representatives on ending the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan has been...

New weapon tested by North Korea is for ground combat, Seoul says

Seoul, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- The new tactical guided weapon that North Korea claimed it had tested earlier this week is a ground combat missile system, a...

Leaders from 37 countries to attend second Belt and Road forum in Beijing

Beijing, Apr 19 (efe-epa).– A total of 37 heads of state or government are expected to attend the second Belt and Road forum in Beijing next week to...

Prime Minister Malian Soumeylou Boubeye and his government resign

Bamako, Apr 18 (efe-epa).- Mali's Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and his entire government on Thursday submitted their resignations to the president...

Pentagon: no change to US stance on North Korea after new weapons test

Washington DC, Apr 18 (efe-epa).- Acting Secretary of Defense of the United States, Patrick Shanahan, said Thursday that neither the Pentagon's "posture"...

Trump tried to control probe, Barr says no obstruction, Mueller to testify

Washington, Apr 18 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump tried to influence Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the...

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.