Julian Assange has lost a legal bid to loosen new requirements that he claims are meant to push him into leaving his asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Judge Karina Martinez ruled against the WikiLeaks founder in the Ecuadorian capital Quito on Monday, deciding that stricter rules recently imposed by the South American nation’s embassy – such as requiring Assange to pay for his internet and clean up after his cat – do not violate his asylum rights.
The authorities, who complained that Assange’s soccer playing and skateboarding had damaged the building, praised the ruling in which Martinez upheld their right to decide what is and isn’t allowed inside the embassy.
Julian Assange has lost a bid to loosen the new house rules imposed on him by the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been in self imposed exile since 2012
Authorities at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London had complained that Assange’s skateboarding and soccer playing had damaged the building
Relations between between the 47-year-old Australian hacker and the government that has provided him refuge for six years have grown increasingly prickly as the years have dragged on with no solution in sight.
Assange’s lawyer vowed to appeal the decision.
‘The Ecuadorian state has an international responsibility to protect Mr. Assange,’ attorney Carlos Poveda said.
Assange argued that the new measures, which make it more difficult to receive visitors and require him to pay for services like laundry and medical bills, are meant to coerce him into ending his asylum.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London (file image)
Assange said the new measures, which force him to clean up after his cat and require him to pay for services like laundry, internet and medical bills, were designed to push him out of the embassy
The rules also make clear that if Assange doesn’t properly feed and take care of his cat, the animal could be sent to the pound.
Ecuador’s government contended the requirements are aimed at peaceful cohabitation in tight quarters in the small embassy, where Assange, who founded WikiLeaks in 2006, takes up more than a third of the space.
‘It’s clear this protocol was issued with strict respect for international law,’ Jose Valencia, Ecuador’s foreign minister, said after the ruling.
Ecuador granted Assange asylum in the embassy in 2012 as he tried to avoid extradition to Sweden for a long-running rape allegation against him.
Sweden’s top prosecutor later dropped the inquiry, saying there was no way to detain or charge him because of his protected status in the embassy.
Ecuadorean Carlos Poveda, lawyer of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, speaks to the press after a hearing in Quito, on October 29, 2018
Ecuadorean Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Valencia (L) and Ecuadorean Attorney General Inigo Salvador speak to the press after a hearing regarding Wikileaks founder Julian Assange
Nonetheless, Assange remains wanted in Britain for jumping bail, and he also fears a possible U.S. extradition based on his leaking of classified State Department documents in 2010, including documents on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Assange initially enjoyed a cozy relationship with then Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa but relations with his host nation have steadily deteriorated.
Current President Lenin Moreno has warned him not to meddle in matters that can jeopardize Ecuador’s foreign relations.