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President of Ecuador claims Julian Assange used embassy as a ‘centre for spying’

The President of Ecuador claims Julian Assange violated the terms of his asylum in his country’s embassy by using it as a ‘centre for spying’.

Lenín Moreno told the Guardian that the decision to end Assange’s asylum suddenly last week was based on the WikiLeaks founder allegedly ‘breaking international law’.

Moreno said Assange had ‘attempted to intefere in processes of other states’ during his time at the embassy in London. 

Assange lived in the embassy for more than seven years before his arrest on Thursday.

It comes as Assange’s father John Shipton urged the Australian government to intervene and bring him back to his home country.


Ecuador President Lenin Moreno claimed Julian Assange used the Ecuadorean embassy as a ‘centre for spying’

Jennifer Robinson, Assange's lawyer, says claims he smeared faeces on the walls of his apartment in the Knightsbridge embassy were lies used to force him out

Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s lawyer, says claims he smeared faeces on the walls of his apartment in the Knightsbridge embassy were lies used to force him out

‘It is unfortunate that, from our territory and with the permission of authorities of the previous government, facilities have been provided within the Ecuadorian embassy in London to interfere in processes of other states.

‘We can not allow our house, the house that opened its doors, to become a centre for spying,’ Moreno said, in an apparent reference to the leaked pictures.

‘This activity violates asylum conditions. Our decision is not arbitrary but is based on international law’. 

Moreno also previously accused the Australian of ‘discourteous and aggressive behaviour’ as he confirmed the south American country had withdrawn his asylum status. 

Moreno also previously accused the Australian of 'discourteous and aggressive behaviour'

Moreno also previously accused the Australian of ‘discourteous and aggressive behaviour’ 

Rafael Correa, Ecuadorian president when Assange was granted asylum, branded Moreno a traitor.

But the country’s Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo hit back by claiming Correa had allowed the 47-year-old to get away with some unimaginable behaviour. 

She said: ‘During his stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy, during the government of the former president Rafael Correa, they tolerated things like Mr Assange putting faeces on the walls of the embassy and other types of behaviour of this kind that is far removed from the minimum respect a guest should have in a country which has generously welcomed him.’

Meanwhile Mr Shipton, who lives in Melbourne, urged prime minister Scott Morrison to step in following Assange’s arrest in London last week.

The 74-year-old told News Corp Australia that Mr Morrison and the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) ‘should in a nuanced way do something’.

Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Thursday

Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Thursday

He added: ‘It can be resolved simply to the satisfaction of all. There has been some talk in a meeting between a senator and a senior DFAT official to extradite Julian to Australia.’

Mr Morrison has previously said Assange, an Australian citizen, will have consular assistance available to him but will not get ‘special treatment’.

Mr Shipton also expressed shock at the appearance of his son in footage of his removal from London’s Ecuadorian embassy on Thursday.

‘I saw him, the way they dragged him down the steps, the coppers – he didn’t look good,’ he added.

‘I’m 74 and I look better than him and he’s 47. It’s such a shock.’

Assange spent almost seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London following defeat in his legal battle against extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted over two separate allegations, one of rape and one of molestation.

In May 2017, Sweden’s top prosecutor dropped the long-running inquiry into a rape claim against Assange, which he has always denied.

But his arrest prompted the lawyer for a Swedish woman who alleged she was raped by Assange during a visit to Stockholm in 2010 to say they wanted the case reopened.

Prosecutors in Sweden have since confirmed that, while the investigation has not been resumed, they are looking into the case.

Assange was bundled out of the Ecuadorian embassy and hauled before Westminster Magistrate’s on Thursday where he was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court.

Assange was thrown out of his Ecuador embassy bolthole in London where he had been given refuge since 2012

Assange was thrown out of his Ecuador embassy bolthole in London where he had been given refuge since 2012

He could face up to 12 months in a UK prison when he is sentenced at Southwark Crown Court, but is wanted in the US for hacking charges and in Sweden for sexual assault offences.

But he is set to challenge any extradition attempts in the Supreme Court with an army of top-shot barristers.

Edward Fitzgerald QC and Ben Cooper are also reportedly poised to join Assange’s defence team.

The pair have fought previous extradition cases such as Gary McKinnon and Lauri Love.

Ecuador’s government said Assange’s seven-year stay at their embassy in London cost the South American country £5million.

Foreign Minister Jose Valencia released the figures as he detailed the money that had been spent on keeping the 47-year-old Wikileaks founder after he entered the embassy on August 16 2012.

Most – nearly £4.5 million – was spent on security, but Mr Valencia also told the country’s legislators that £305,000 went on medical expenditure, food and washing his clothes.

Julian Assange was captured skateboarding through the Ecuadorian embassy wearing in shorts in security footage

Julian Assange was captured skateboarding through the Ecuadorian embassy wearing in shorts in security footage

He ignored repeated warnings not to leave half-eaten meals and unwashed dishes in the kitchen

He ignored repeated warnings not to leave half-eaten meals and unwashed dishes in the kitchen

He revealed another £230,000 was spent on legal advice the Australian received in 2012.

The Ecuadorian government said Assange, arrested on Thursday after his diplomatic asylum was withdrawn by the country’s president Lenin Moreno, had paid for his own upkeep since the start of last December.

His arrest came after the Ecuadorian government ended his asylum status, saying it was tired of his ‘discourteous’ behaviour and poor personal hygiene, which reportedly included smearing faeces on the walls of the country’s London embassy.

Security footage that has come to light over the weekend has show Assange skateboarding through the embassy.

Unable to exercise outside, Assange reportedly caused mayhem with his skateboard, left dirty dishes out and blasted loud music. 

Assange appears pale and dishevelled in the clip.

Julian Assange’s fight for freedom: A timeline of the WikiLeaks founder’s decade in the limelight


Assange creates Wikileaks with a group of like-minded activists and IT experts to provide a secure way for whistleblowers to leak information. He quickly becomes its figurehead and a lightning rod for criticism.


March: U.S. authorities allege Assange engaged in a conspiracy to hack a classified U.S. government computer with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. 

July: Wikileaks starts releasing tens of thousands of top secrets documents, including a video of U.S. helicopter pilots gunning down 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007.  What followed was the release of more than 90,000 classified US military files from the Afghan war and 400,000 from Iraq that included the names of informants. 

August: Two Swedish women claim that they each had consensual sex with Assange in separate instances when he was on a 10-day trip to Stockholm. They allege the sex became non-consensual when Assange refused to wear a condom.

First woman claims Assange was staying at her apartment in Stockholm when he ripped off her clothes. She told police that when she realized Assange was trying to have unprotected sex with her, she demanded he use a condom. She claims he ripped the condom before having sex.

Second Swedish woman claims she had sex with Assange at her apartment in Stockholm and she made him wear a condom. She alleges that she later woke up to find Assange having unprotected sex with her.

He was questioned by police in Stockholm and denied the allegations. Assange was granted permission by Swedish authorities to fly back to the U.K.  

November: A Swedish court ruled that the investigation should be reopened and Assange should be detained for questioning on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. An international arrest warrant is issued by Swedish police through Interpol.

Wikileaks releases its cache of more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables.  

December: Assange presents himself to London police and appears at an extradition hearing where he is remanded in custody. Assange is granted conditional bail at the High Court in London after his supporters pay £240,000 in cash and sureties.


February: A British judge rules Assange should be extradited to Sweden but Wikileaks found vows to fight the decision.

April:  A cache of classified U.S. military documents is released by Wikileaks, including intelligence assessments on nearly all of the 779 people who are detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

November: Assange loses High Court appeal against the decision to extradite him.


June: Assange enters the Ecuadorian embassy in London requesting political asylum. 

August: Assange is granted political asylum by Ecuador.


June: Assange tells a group of journalists he will not leave the embassy even if sex charges against him are dropped out of fear he will be extradited to the U.S.


August: Swedish prosecutors drop investigation into some of the sex allegations against Assange due to time restrictions. The investigation into suspected rape remains active.


July: Wikileaks begins leaking emails U.S. Democratic Party officials favoring Hillary Clinton.

November: Assange is questioned over the sex allegation at the Ecuadorian Embassy in the presence of Sweden’s assistant prosecutor Ingrid Isgren and police inspector Cecilia Redell. The interview spans two days. 


January: Barack Obama agrees to free whistleblower Chelsea Manning from prison. Her pending release prompts speculation Assange will end his self-imposed exile after Wikileaks tweeted he would agree to U.S. extradition.

April: Lenin Moreno becomes the new president of Ecuador who was known to want to improve diplomatic relations between his country and the U.S. 

May: An investigation into a sex allegation against Assange is suddenly dropped by Swedish prosecutors. 


January: Ecuador confirms it has granted citizenship to Assange following his request. 

February: Assange is visited by Pamela Anderson and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel.

March: The Ecuadorian Embassy suspends Assange’s internet access because he wasn’t complying with a promise he made the previous year to ‘not send messages which entailed interference in relation to other states’.

August: U.S. Senate committee asks to interview Assange as part of their investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

September: Assange steps down as editor of WikiLeaks.

October: Assange reveals he will launch legal action against the government of Ecuador, accusing it of violating his ‘fundamental rights and freedoms’.

November: U.S. Justice Department inadvertently names Assange in a court document that says he has been charged in secret. 


January: Assange’s lawyers say they are taking action to make President Trump’s administration reveal charges ‘secretly filed’ against him.

April 6: WikiLeaks tweets that a high level Ecuadorian source has told them Assange will be expelled from the embassy within ‘hours or days’. But a senior Ecuadorian official says no decision has been made to remove him from the London building.

April 11: Assange has his diplomatic asylum revoked by Ecuador.

Was Julian Assange expelled from the embassy over a leaked picture of a lobster? Snap of Ecuador’s president eating in bed got Assange pinched

A spat over scoffing lobster in bed was behind Julian Assange’s exit from the Ecuadorian embassy last week and the ensuing political storm over what to do with the WikiLeaks fugitive.

Assange’s seven-year stay at the Knightsbridge embassy ended when he was handcuffed at the behest of his exasperated South American hosts and dragged out by officers from Scotland Yard.

Last night, it emerged that Assange was removed after embarrassing pictures of Ecuador president Lenin Moreno dining on lobster at a luxury hotel room were leaked to a website.

In February, more than 200 private emails and text messages belonging to Mr Moreno and his wife, as well as pictures of the family on lavish holidays in Europe, were leaked to a site called

An embarrassing photo of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno lying in bed enjoying a plate of lobster emerged online

An embarrassing photo of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno lying in bed enjoying a plate of lobster emerged online

Assange being driven in handcuffs to Westminster Magistrates Court in London by police on Thursday

Assange being driven in handcuffs to Westminster Magistrates Court in London by police on Thursday

The most embarrassing photos were of Mr Moreno eating lobster in his hotel bed. The pictures caused uproar in Ecuador since it showed the president luxuriating at a time when he had imposed austerity measures on his people.

Last night, The Mail on Sunday was able to find the photograph on several Twitter pages, as well as Spanish-language websites, including the Republic del Banano site.

Mr Moreno has accused Assange of leaking the material, a claim which WikiLeaks has always denied. On Thursday, as Assange was being dragged out of the embassy, Mr Moreno told reporters he did not have the right to ‘hack private phones’.

But WikiLeaks said in a statement on its website: ‘In short, the [Ecuadorian] government seeks a false pretext to end the asylum and protection of Julian Assange.’

After Assange was arrested, it emerged that he led an erratic and squalid lifestyle at the embassy. He was accused of smearing walls with excrement and blocking a toilet with soiled underwear.

Now Westminster is divided over whether to extradite him to the United States, where he is wanted for releasing millions of secret documents online, or to Sweden, where he has been accused of rape.

The decision will be for Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who has made clear ‘all options are on the table’.

A Home Office source said: ‘He is calmly establishing what Home Office policy levers are at his disposal to make sure that Mr Assange faces justice, which he believes is absolutely essential.’

Assange can only be extradited to Sweden if the country’s prosecuting authority reopens its investigation and its government issues a fresh European Arrest Warrant. If Assange is extradited there, he will face a charge of rape against a woman identified only as W. Assange has always denied the charge.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott sparked outrage last week by appearing to downplay the sex assault allegations, claiming Assange was being targeted because he had embarrassed the US military. Within hours, Labour was accused of a total about-turn after Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry told the BBC he should face justice in Sweden.

That was followed yesterday by a letter from Ms Abbott herself to colleagues saying ‘rape is a heinous crime’. She added that the UK should extradite Assange to Sweden if the authorities there reopened their investigations.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a statement to the media and supporters from a window of the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a statement to the media and supporters from a window of the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added: ‘If there are allegations which Julian Assange needs to answer of sexual issues, sexual attacks that may or may not have taken place in Sweden, then it’s a matter for the courts to decide but I do think he should answer those questions.’

Tory chairman Brandon Lewis said: ‘No one should be above the law, yet the fact that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour were so quick to jump to the defence of someone facing such serious allegations speaks volumes.’

Last night, a lawyer acting for woman W in Sweden said: ‘We hope the British authorities will co-operate so that Assange can be extradited to Sweden before the statute of limitations for the rape allegation expires in August 2020.’