Tuesday, 01 May 2018 10:53

Assange freedom hopes evaporate after US-Ecuador deal

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The chances of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange gaining a reprieve from his confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London have taken a blow after the US signed a security deal with the South American nation.

The deal, signed on Wednesday last week, is likely to result in an US military presence in the country, according to a report from Telesur.

It now seems unlikely that Ecuador President Lenin Moreno will pay heed to calls to restore Assange's Internet access.

Last month, Assange lost his Internet access after Ecuador took what it said was a step to stop him from interfering in other countries' affairs and pulled the plug.

There were differing versions of why Ecuador had objected, with one being that it had occurred because he raised doubts about Britain's assertions that Moscow was behind the recent poisoning of an ex-spy from Russia and his daughter.

But WikiLeaks said Ecuador had asked for removal of a tweet that said: "In 1940 the elected president of Catalonia, Lluís Companys, was captured by the Gestapo, at the request of Spain, delivered to them and executed. Today, German police have arrested the elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, at the request of Spain, to be extradited."

It added: "This is the only tweet the government of Ecuador asked to be removed. In an email to his London lawyers on 27 March at 14:54 BST the Ecuadorian foreign ministry referenced no other matter."

Moreno's cosying up to the US contrasts with his predecessor, Rafael Correa, who had refused to take part in a US-sponsored plan for the country.

Assange has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy since June 2012. He was recently granted Ecuadorian citizenship and given diplomatic status in the hope that the UK would allow him to leave the embassy.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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