The country’s foreign minister José Valencia authorized the seizure of equipment earlier this month. The material includes manuscripts, legal papers, medical records and electronic equipment.
According to Valencia, most of Assanage’s possessions are being returned to Ecuador to be evaluated by government prosecutors. “We are being very deliberate in this process and following established rules,” he said. “It is not true, as some sources are saying, that we are turning everything over to the U.S. government.”
Assange’s lawyer said the move was “completely unprecedented in the history of asylum”.
“Ecuador is committing a flagrant violation of the most basic norms of the institution of asylum by handing over all the asylee’s personal belongings indiscriminately to the country that he was being protected from,” added lawyer Aitor Martinez.
Mr Valencia said last week that the decision to share items with U.S. authorities should be taken by the prosecutor’s office.
Wikileaks’ Editor-in-Chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, said in a statement that there was “no doubt” that Ecuador had “tampered” with the belongings it had sent to the U.S.
The U.S. is seeking Assange’s extradition from the UK over his alleged role in the release of classified military and diplomatic material by Wikileaks in 2010. Australian-born Assange faces a charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in the US. He is accused of participating in one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets, which could result in a prison term of up to five years.
The 47-year-old whistleblower is already facing moves to extradite him to Sweden on rape charges. In 2010, a Swedish woman accused him of rape after they met at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm. Assange has always denied the allegations, and sought refuge in Ecuador’s embassy for seven years to avoid a British extradition order to Sweden.
The charges were dropped in 2017, but on Monday prosecutors issued a renewed request to hold Mr Assange on suspicion of rape – a first step towards seeking his extradition.
Swedish deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, said in a statement a request had been filed with the Uppsala district court to have Assange detained in his absence. She added that once the court had granted the request, she would then ask British authorities to transfer Assange to Sweden.
Assange was arrested on 11 April after being handed over to British authorities by Ecuador. He is serving a 50-week sentence in Belmarsh prison for skipping his extradition order.
Credit: BBC, www.bbc.com