WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is claiming that Ecuador is spying on him in its London embassy and cooperating secretly with the U.S. FBI.
Meanwhile, Ecuador’s new ambassador to Britain, Jaime Marchán, says he hopes to continue talks between Assange, Ecuador and Britain but outside of the media spotlight. “The case of Mr. Assange has become an international spectacle and I hope to maintain the talks in a quieter environment,” says Marchán. He added that much of the media coverage of Assange and Ecuador’s position on his case has been inaccurate.
Assange has lived in the embassy since 2012 when he was granted asylum by former president Rafael Correa.
In a Friday video message, Assange claimed that he is the victim of espionage. “There are spy actions against me by the government of Ecuador. That information has been sent to the FBI, in the United States,” he said as part of an appeal hearing last week before an Ecuadorean judge.
Last month, a Quito judge threw out charges by Assange that Ecuador has violated his human rights.
Assange also denounced Ecuadorian authorities’ alleged threats and objections about his work as a critical journalist, which he characterized as “illegal, with terrible precedents” for the practice of journalism.
Assange said he is living in “solitary confinement” where he is subjected to a variety of restrictions regarding visits from third-parties and access to the internet. The restrictions have started affecting his health, he says. He also claims that new rules, which require him to pay for medical bills, phone calls and to clean up after his pet cat are unfair. Assange’s lawyer said that his client would be appealing the decision and that another hearing would take place in the near future.
Marchán is a veteran diplomat who headed embassies in the former Yugoslavia (1989-1990), Italy (1990-1992), Austria (1995-1997), Chile (1997-2000) and Switzerland (2003-2008) and was consul at the British embassy between 1975 and 1978. He is a writer who has been a political science professor at George Washington University in the U.S. and the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador.
“My instructions from President [Lenin] Moreno are clear,” Marchán says. “My role is to maintain and improve relations with Great Britain in the issues that affect the two countries. Regarding the situation with Julian Assange, my plan is to calm down the rhetoric and conduct discussions in a dignified and quiet manner.”
Assange’s lawyer, Carlos Poveda, says he is fearful that plans are being made to hand Assange over to U.S. law enforcement agencies. Ecuador denies the claim. From his home in exile in Belgium, Correa said last week that he thought the current government would “violate [Assange’s] fundamental human rights” and hand him over to great Britain that would, in turn, extradite him to the U.S.
Sources: El Comercio, Telesur