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Ecuador explains decision to expel Assange, alleges that WikiLeaks hackers work in Ecuador

Speaking before Ecuador’s National Assembly Thursday afternoon, Foreign Minister José Valencia justified the government’s decision to revoke the asylum of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and turn him over to British authorities.

Julian Assange gives a thumbs up as he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in a British police van on Thursday.

Among the reasons Valencia gave were “countless acts of interference in the internal politics of other countries,” personal attacks on embassy personnel and visitors, including diplomatic officials from other countries, threats against the government of Ecuador, Assange’s deteriorating mental and physical health and his refusal to obey embassy rules, which were first imposed in 2015 and updated last year.

Valencia added that Assange’s personal behavior and lack of hygiene were also factors in the decision. “We were unable to tolerate the disrespect he showed those who worked in the embassy as well as his general lack of cleanliness,” he said.

“Above all, we were alarmed by the decline of Mr. Assange’s health and were unable to provide the services we believe he desperately needs,” he said.

According to Valencia, the British government agreed that it would not extradite Assange to a nation where he would face the death penalty for his alleged crimes, referring to the U.S. “This was one of our conditions for ending the asylum and we have the agreement in writing from British officials,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, Valencia and Interior Minister María Paula Romo charged that WikiLeaks was working with two Russian hackers stationed in Ecuador for the purpose of “destabilizing” the government. They provided few details for the charge but said that former interior minister Ricardo Patina may have had a connection to the hackers.

Romo said she was turning over information about the hacking operation to federal prosecutors.

For more about the Assange story, including his Thursday morning arrest, click here.