Saturday, 20 October 2018 12:37

Assange sues Ecuador over alleged violation of rights Featured

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Assange sues Ecuador over alleged violation of rights Courtesy YouTube

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has filed a lawsuit against Ecuador, accusing the government of violating his fundamental rights and freedoms.

Assange, who has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012, said in a statement issued by WikiLeaks on Friday that his lawyers would challenge a "protocol" put in place by Ecuador that made it mandatory for his lawyers to hand over personal details before being allowed to see him.

The case was launched in Quito by WikiLeaks general counsel Balthazar Garcon who arrived in the Ecuadorian capital on Thursday.

The statement said: "The move comes almost seven months after Ecuador threatened to remove his protection and summarily cut off his access to the outside world, including by refusing to allow journalists and human rights organisations to see him, and installing three signal jammers in the embassy to prevent his phone calls and Internet access.

Ecuador cut off Assange's Internet access and phone lines in March, but said recently it would restore them if he adhered to some conditions.

Assange has said that he fears being extradited to the US if he leaves the embassy in London. Last year US officials said arresting him was a top priority.

The WikiLeaks statement said: “The US case against Julian Assange dates back to the Obama administration 2010, but has been expanded under Trump to include the biggest leak in CIA history, Vault 7."

The statement said pressure had been increasing on Ecuador to hand Assange over to the UK, especially since US President Mike Pence's visit in June during which Ecuador President Lenin Moreno and Pence "agreed to remain in close co-ordination" in relation to Assange.

"Last week, Ecuador's former President Rafael Correa, under whose administration Assange obtained political asylum, said that the current administration is 'trying to break him psychologically' and that a deal had been struck during Pence's visit to Ecuador earlier this year," the statement claimed.

The protocol referred to earlier makes Assange's political asylum contingent on censoring his freedom of opinion, speech and association.

"The protocol also requires journalists, his lawyers and anyone else seeking to see Assange to disclose private or political details such as their social media usernames, the serial numbers and IMEI codes of their phones and tablets. The protocol says the government may share these details with other agencies. The protocol claims the embassy may seize Assange's property or his visitors, and, without a warrant, hand it over to UK authorities," the statement said.

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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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