Julian Assange sues Ecuador for violating 'fundamental rights', limiting access to outside world

VIDEO: REUTERS
Assange addressing the media from the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London in May 2017.
Assange addressing the media from the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London in May 2017.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sued the Ecuador government on Friday (Oct 19) for violating his "fundamental rights" and limiting his access to the outside world while in asylum at its London embassy.

The whistleblowing website said its general counsel arrived in Ecuador on Thursday to launch a legal case against the government for "violating (Assange's) fundamental rights and freedom".

"The move comes almost seven months after Ecuador threatened to remove his protection and summarily cut off his access to the outside world, including by refusing to allow journalists and human rights organisations to see him," WikiLeaks said.

It added that the embassy was requiring Assange's visitors - including journalists and lawyers - to disclose "private or political details such as their social media usernames".

The Ecuador government issued no immediate statement in response.

Assange's legal action comes with speculation mounting that Ecuador was preparing to end its standoff with the British government by terminating his six-year asylum.

Quito confirmed blocking Assange's Internet and mobile phone access in March after accusing him of breaking "a written committment" not to interfere in Ecuador's foreign policies.

 

Assange found refuge in the embassy in 2012 after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault, and he feared being transferred to the US.

US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions said in March 2017 that arresting Assange for leaking sensitive US government files through his websites was a "priority".