Julian Assange sought refuge at the Ecuador Embassy in Knightsbridge in June 2012, having lost an appeal against extradition to Sweden for questioning on allegations of rape and sexual assault that went to the Supreme Court. (Photo: Reuters)
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is taking legal action against Ecuador, the South American nation that continues to provide him asylum, for allegedly violating his “fundamental rights and freedoms”. The 47-year-old Australian national, who has been holed up in a back room of the Ecuadorean embassy in central London for over six years, was placed under a new set of house rules after he was allowed limited internet access recently after a seven-month hiatus.
The WikiLeaks said Ecuador had threatened to remove the protection Assange has had since being granted political asylum in 2012, and added that his access to the outside world had been “summarily cut off”.
WikiLeaks lawyer Baltasar Garzon is now in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, to launch the case, which is set to be heard in a domestic court next week, according to UK media reports.
“Ecuador’s measures against Julian Assange have been widely condemned by the human rights community,” a Wikileaks statement said.
Assange’s lawyers said they are also challenging the legality of the Ecuadorian government’s “special protocol”, which makes his political asylum contingent on “censoring” his freedom of opinion, speech and association.
The protocol also requires journalists, lawyers and anyone else seeking to see Assange to disclose their private or political details, such as social media usernames and the serial numbers and codes of their phones and tablets, with Ecuador – which the protocol says the government may “share with other agencies”.
The protocol claims the embassy may seize the property of Assange or his visitors and, without a warrant, hand it over to UK authorities, notes the Wikileaks statement.
Assange sought refuge at the Ecuador Embassy in Knightsbridge in June 2012, having lost an appeal against extradition to Sweden for questioning on allegations of rape and sexual assault that went to the Supreme Court.
While the Swedish case has since been dropped, Assange is still wanted by the Scotland Yard for breach of bail and faces arrest the moment he steps out of the diplomatically immune territory.
Assange had been granted asylum six years ago on the grounds that he feared extradition to America, where he faced a possible death sentence or torture for Wikileaks’ alleged leak of secrets.