Ecuador Turns Off Internet for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange

By Ramiro Carrillo (dpa)

Julian Assange on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

HAVANA TIMES – Ecuador suspended communications to the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, held up in asylum since 2012 in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, after he questioned on Twitter the arrest of former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont in Germany.

In a statement, the Ecuadorian government said Wednesday that the measure was adopted due to the failure of Assange to abide by a commitment made at the end of 2017 “by which he was obliged not to issue messages that interfere in relations to other states.”

Ecuador warned Assange that his messages on social networks “puts at risk the good relations that the country maintains with the United Kingdom, with the rest of the European Union and other nations.”

It also indicated that the measure to suspend communications abroad is to “prevent potential harm.” The Ecuadorian Executive “also maintains open the possibility of new measures in the absence of a commitment by Assange,” he warned.

The statement was issued after Assange criticized on Twitter the arrest of Puigdemont in Germany. Among other things, the founder of Wikileaks wrote that “Germany has its first political prisoner”.

Hours later, the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry announced that it will meet next week in London with Assange’s lawyers to explore “additional measures.”

“We are evaluating the measures with our lawyers, we will explore what are the alternatives that allow us the framework of international law and our own Ecuadorian legislation and constitution,” said Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa.

Espinosa added that “the most important thing is that Ecuador maintains a dialogue with the United Kingdom to find a definitive and lasting solution to this situation that the current government has inherited.”

The official recalled that in December 2017, Assange made a written commitment to Ecuador in order not to issue messages regarding other states and “he violated that commitment,” he said.

This is not the first time that Assange’s political activity has embarrassed Ecuador. In the 2016 election campaign in the United States, the Government of Ecuador, chaired by Rafael Correa, temporarily cut off the Internet service of its London embassy.

Wikileaks was broadcasting from the Ecuadorian diplomatic legation messages of disrepute to the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

“Ecuador respects the principle of non-intervention in the affairs of other countries and does not interfere in ongoing electoral processes,” the government said in October 2016.

From August 2017, Assange became involved in the independence movement of Catalonia, first spreading thousands of messages in its platform of revelations in support of the process and against the Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy.

In November he had a long meeting in the Ecuadorian embassy with the Catalan leader Oriol Soler that led to new public messages of support for the secessionist movement.

“We have reminded Mr. Assange that he must not intervene in Ecuadorian politics, because his status does not allow it. Likewise he must not intervene in the politics of our friendly countries. He has no right to do so and has committed himself to that, “President Lenin Moreno warned him afterwards.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry clarified that Assange’s support for the Catalan independence movement “does not represent the position of the Ecuadorian State.”

Assange has been in asylum in the embassy of Ecuador in the United Kingdom since 2012 in protection from the possibility of being extradited to the United States for the revelation of Wikileaks of secret documents of that country about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In December he received Ecuadorian nationality, in an attempt to take him to the South American country declaring him a diplomatic official, a possibility that was rejected by London.

The British government maintained that Assange will be detained if he sets foot outside the diplomatic headquarters of Ecuador, since there is an arrest warrant for having violated his house arrest and not having paid bail, within a legal process that a Swedish court continued for sexual crimes.