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Britain, Ecuador seeking an end to the Julian Assange standoff

Ecuador's previous left-leaning administration gave Assange asylum in 2012, saying it feared his life was in danger for publishing thousands of diplomatic cables that put US officials in a difficult position.

By: AP | New York |
September 27, 2018 9:07:33 am
Britain, Ecuador seeking an end to the Julian Assange standoff Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno Garces addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Ecuador’s president said Wednesday that his country and Britain are working on a legal solution for Julian Assange to allow the Wikileaks founder to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in “the medium term.” President Lenin Moreno told The Associated Press that Assange’s lawyers were aware of the negotiations. He declined to provide more details because of the sensitivity of the case.

Assange has been holed up in the embassy for more than six years. The famous whistleblower and computer engineer faces an arrest warrant in the U.K. for not making a bail payment and fears he could be extradited to the US, where high-level officials have spoken about prosecuting him for stealing classified information. Previous sexual assault charges filed against him in Sweden have been dropped.

Moreno said his country will work for Assange’s safety and the preservation of his human rights as it seeks a way for him to leave the embassy.

“Being five or six years in an embassy already violates his human rights,” Moreno said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. “But his presence in the embassy is also a problem.”

Ecuador’s previous left-leaning administration gave Assange asylum in 2012, saying it feared his life was in danger for publishing thousands of diplomatic cables that put US officials in a difficult position.

But Assange’s relationship with the Ecuadorian government has soured since the centrist Moreno became president. Over the past two years Assange’s access to the internet was suspended on several occasions, as he continued to hack politicians from different countries and made controversial statements on his social media accounts.

“I understand that currently he has no access (to the internet) to stop him from doing that again,” Moreno said. “But if Mr Assange promises to stop emitting opinions on the politics of friendly nations like Spain or the United States then we have no problem with him going online.”

Ecuador’s government has said Assange’s activities in the embassy, including the publishing of thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails prior to the 2016 election in the US, have compromised its relations with other countries.

“I don’t agree with what he does,” Moreno said. “To see someone violating people’s right to communicate privately makes me feel uncomfortable.” Assange has long argued that he is simply monitoring the actions of some of the world’s most powerful politicians and exercising his right to free speech.

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