Assange's communications to be partly restored by Ecuador govt

Joanna Estrada
October 15, 2018

Ecuador has restored partial internet access to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who took refuge in the country's London Embassy more than six years ago, WikiLeaks and an Assange lawyer said separately on Sunday.

The Ecuadorian government suspended access in March because it said Assange had breached "a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages that might interfere with other states".

But Trump administration officials have condemned Assange, while a federal grand jury continues a long-running criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and its personnel, a US official recently confirmed. WikiLeaks denied such an agreement existed.

"Ecuador has told WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange that it will remove the isolation regime imposed on him following meetings between two senior United Nations officials and Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno on Friday", Wikileaks said in a statement on Sunday.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, Wikileaks editor in chief, described the move as "positive" but said it is "of grave concern that his freedom to express his opinions is still limited".

'Mr Assange was informed of Ecuador's decision hours after Mr Grandi and Mr Kaye met with President Moreno'. At the time, Assange was still gagged at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The news of Assange's communications being restored was first reported by the Press Association citing sources.

Mr Assange has not left the Ecuadorian embassy for six years after losing a legal battle against extradition to Sweden over rape and sexual assault allegations. "Ecuador's President until a year ago, Rafael Correa, has denounced Mr Assange's treatment as "torture" stating 'the government is basically attacking Julian's mental health".

Assange claims the accusations were politically motivated and could lead to him being extradited to the United States to face imprisonment over WikiLeaks' publication of secret U.S. military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010. However, the fate of one of the world's most famous fugitives has been balancing on the edge of a cliff since Moreno came to power in May previous year. The change was also confirmed by Assange's Australian legal adviser, Greg Barns, who called it "a welcome development". It was reported in July that Ecuador was in talks with the United Kingdom to expel Assange from the embassy, and that his extradition was all but "imminent".

"If the British government guarantees us that he will not run the risk of being extradited to another country, we will ask Mr. Assange (to leave); we will talk first with his attorneys", Moreno said in August.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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