from the be-nice-to-your-hosts dept.
Julian Assange announced on Friday that he was suing the Ecuadorean government for "violating his fundamental rights," claiming that his longtime hosts at the country's embassy in London are limiting his contact with the outside world and censoring his speech.
His legal team in the matter, led by the former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, revealed the suit at a news conference in Quito, where the lawsuit was filed. The action aims to prevent strict new rules governing Mr. Assange's visitors and online activity from taking effect.
The policies were laid out in a nine-page memo that was published by a news site this month. (They include directives to clean his bathroom and look after his cat.)
Clean up your room and brush your teeth before you go to bed.
Previously: Julian Assange has His Internet Access Cut Off by Ecuador
Ecuador Spent $5 Million Protecting and Spying on Julian Assange
Ecuador Reportedly Almost Ready to Hand Julian Assange Over to UK Authorities
Associated Press Publishes Supposedly Leaked WikiLeaks Documents
The Guardian: Russian Diplomats Planned to Sneak Julian Assange Out of the UK
The government of Ecuador has confirmed that it has cut off internet access in its embassy in London to Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks, saying that he was putting the country's international relations at risk.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Ecuador said that the step had been taken because Assange had failed to abide by an agreement not to interfere in the South American country's relations with other states.
"The government of Ecuador warns that Assange's behaviour, through his messages on social networks, put at risk the country's good relations with the United Kingdom, the other states of the European Union, and other nations," the statement said.
[...] Ecuador temporarily cut Assange's internet connection in 2016, over fears that he was using it to interfere in the US presidential election, but it was later restored.
The Ecuadorean government spent around $5 million to protect and spy on Julian Assange and his visitors, according to The Guardian. The operation evolved over time as the embassy's guest became less welcome:
Over more than five years, Ecuador put at least $5m (£3.7m) into a secret intelligence budget that protected the WikiLeaks founder while he had visits from Nigel Farage, members of European nationalist groups and individuals linked to the Kremlin. [...] Documents show the intelligence programme, called "Operation Guest", which later became known as "Operation Hotel" – coupled with parallel covert actions – ran up an average cost of at least $66,000 a month for security, intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence to "protect" one of the world's most high-profile fugitives. [...] The security personnel recorded in minute detail Assange's daily activities, and his interactions with embassy staff, his legal team and other visitors. They also documented his changing moods.
[...] Worried that British authorities could use force to enter the embassy and seize Assange, Ecuadorian officials came up with plans to help him escape. They included smuggling Assange out in a diplomatic vehicle or appointing him as Ecuador's United Nations representative so he could have diplomatic immunity in order to attend UN meetings, according to documents seen by the Guardian dated August 2012. In addition to giving Assange asylum, Correa's government was apparently prepared to spend money on improving his image. A lawyer was asked to devise a "media strategy" to mark the "second anniversary of his diplomatic asylum", in a leaked 2014 email exchange seen by the Guardian.
The money being spent was unknown to some members of the government, including the Ecuadorian ambassador to the UK, who learned of the operation in 2015. Ecuador's financial controller's office also investigated payments related to the operation.
Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno traveled to London on Friday for the ostensible purpose of speaking at the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit (Moreno has been using a wheelchair since being shot in a 1998 robbery attempt). The concealed, actual purpose of the President's trip is to meet with British officials to finalize an agreement under which Ecuador will withdraw its asylum protection of Julian Assange, in place since 2012, eject him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and then hand over the WikiLeaks founder to British authorities.
The Associated Press has published a cache of 10 documents that it says are part of a leaked "larger trove of WikiLeaks emails, chat logs, financial records, secretly recorded footage, and other documents." AP reporter Raphael Satter declined to elaborate as to how much more material the AP had or why that material was not being released now.
Among those documents is a purported November 30, 2010 effort by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to seek a Russian visa via its London consulate. That's just a week before Assange surrendered to British authorities who sought him for questioning on behalf of Swedish prosecutors who wanted him on allegations of sexual misconduct. By June 2012, Assange had entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has remained since. Assange has denied any wrongdoing in the Swedish case.
[...] This cache adds intrigue to WikiLeaks' and Assange's ongoing saga. Numerous media outlets reported early last month that Assange's days in the embassy are numbered and that the Ecuadorian authorities could boot him soon. "The files provide both an intimate look at the radical transparency organization and an early hint of Assange's budding relationship with Moscow," Satter wrote.
[...] For its part, WikiLeaks responded shortly after the Associated Press story went live on Monday morning by suggesting that, at a minimum, the visa application document was false, tweeting at numerous media outlets:
Mr. Assange did not apply for such a visa at any time or author the document. The source is document fabricator & paid FBI informant Sigurdur Thordarson who was sentenced to prison for fabricating docs impersonating Assange, multiple frauds & pedophilllia. https://t.co/xzMfhctFx4
Russian diplomats held secret talks in London last year with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the UK, the Guardian has learned.
A tentative plan was devised that would have seen the WikiLeaks founder smuggled out of Ecuador's London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country.
One ultimate destination, multiple sources have said, was Russia, where Assange would not be at risk of extradition to the US. The plan was abandoned after it was deemed too risky.
The operation to extract Assange was provisionally scheduled for Christmas Eve in 2017, one source claimed, and was linked to an unsuccessful attempt by Ecuador to give Assange formal diplomatic status.
The United Kingdom told Ecuador in August that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would not be extradited if he left the country's London embassy, where he has lived under asylum since 2012, Ecuador's top government attorney said on Thursday.
[...] Salvador said Ecuador passed on the UK's response to Assange's lawyers, but noted that if Assange stayed in the embassy Ecuador would put new conditions on his stay. "Mr. Assange had a choice between turning himself in to British authorities with those assurances, or staying in the embassy of Ecuador, but given that the asylum had lasted six years with no signs of immediate resolution we were going to place certain rules." Salvador said at a news conference.
[...] The relationship between Assange and Ecuador has grown increasingly tense in the past year. Assange filed a lawsuit in an Ecuadorean court last week claiming the new asylum terms, which require him to pay for medical bills and telephone calls and to clean up after his pet cat, violate his rights.
Inadvertent Court Filing Suggests that the U.S. DoJ is Preparing to Indict Julian Assange
The Justice Department has prepared an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, marking a drastic escalation of the government's yearslong battle with him and his anti-secrecy group. It was not clear if prosecutors have filed charges against Mr. Assange. The indictment came to light late Thursday through an unrelated court filing in which prosecutors inadvertently mentioned charges against him. "The court filing was made in error," said Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the United States attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia. "That was not the intended name for this filing."
[...] Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at George Washington University who closely tracks court cases, uncovered the filing and posted it on Twitter.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to say on Thursday what led to the inadvertent disclosure. It was made in a recently unsealed filing in an apparently unrelated sex-crimes case charging a man named Seitu Sulayman Kokayi with coercing and enticing an underage person to engage in unlawful sexual activity. Mr. Kokayi was charged in early August, and on Aug. 22, prosecutors filed a three-page document laying out boilerplate arguments for why his case at that time needed to remain sealed.
While the filing started out referencing Mr. Kokayi, federal prosecutors abruptly switched on its second page to discussing the fact that someone named "Assange" had been secretly indicted, and went on to make clear that this person was the subject of significant publicity, lived abroad and would need to be extradited — suggesting that prosecutors had inadvertently pasted text from a similar court filing into the wrong document and then filed it.
"Another procedure short of sealing will not adequately protect the needs of law enforcement at this time because, due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged," prosecutors wrote. They added, "The complaint, supporting affidavit, and arrest warrant, as well as this motion and the proposed order, would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter."