Assange Sues Ecuador Over Conditions to Remain in London Embassy
(Bloomberg) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is suing Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Jose Valencia over new rules of conduct imposed as a condition for him to remain at the country’s embassy in London, according to his lawyer.
The rules violate Assange’s constitutional rights and need to be clarified by Ecuador’s courts, Baltasar Garzon, a former Spanish judge, told reporters in Quito on Friday. Failure to accept them could lead to his expulsion from the embassy. The WikiLeaks founder sought the protection of Ecuador in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced rape allegations, or the U.S., where he could be punished for publishing secret government documents.
Among the conditions imposed by the Ecuadorian government, the embassy would decide who could visit Assange and when, while restricting his ability to comment on political issues. It also orders him to take proper care of his cat or risk having it handed to a shelter.
“Mention of the cat is degrading,” Garzon said, adding that Assange is ill due to his prolonged confinement in the embassy. He still lacks access to the Internet, his lawyer said.
Ecuador will respond to the lawsuit adequately, observing the rule of law, Valencia said in a statement posted on the foreign ministry’s website. “The embassy has the right to protect its offices, the officials who work there, and even Mr. Assange himself,” he wrote.
Diplomat to Moscow
Documents made public this week revealed Ecuador granted citizenship to Assange in December in a failed bid to transfer him to Moscow as an Ecuadorian diplomat. Garzon said that “was a decision made by the government of Ecuador and accepted by Assange” and that failure of the plan, later blocked by the British Foreign Office, wasn’t his client’s fault.
Assange, now an Ecuadorian citizen, remains under the protection of Quito, he added.
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