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Julian Assange: WikiLeaks founder loses legal fight against Ecuador and must now clean up after his cat

Mr Assange argues Ecuador is seeking to end his asylum and hand him over to US

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 30 October 2018 15:26 GMT
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Julian Assange sues Ecuador government for violating his 'fundamental freedoms'

Julian Assange has lost a legal battle over his living conditions in the Ecuadorean embassy in London and must now pay for his internet and phone calls – and clean up after his cat.

During the hearing, the WikiLeaks founder said Ecuador was seeking to end his asylum in its embassy and hand him over to the US.

But the judge, Karina Martinez, decided the stricter rules recently imposed by the South American nation’s embassy do not violate his asylum rights because authorities have the right to decide what is and isn’t allowed inside the building.

Mr Assange’s lawyer has vowed to appeal the decision. “The Ecuadorian state has an international responsibility to protect Mr Assange,” Carlos Poveda said.

Mr Assange argued the new measures, rendering it more difficult to receive visitors and requiring him to pay for services like laundry and medical bills, are meant to coerce him into ending his asylum.

The rules also make clear that if Mr Assange doesn’t properly feed and take care of his cat, the animal could be impounded.

Ecuador’s government contended the requirements are aimed at peaceful cohabitation in tight quarters in the small embassy, where Mr Assange takes up more than a third of the space.

Embassy staff had complained of Mr Assange riding a skateboard in the halls, of playing football on the grounds and behaving aggressively with security personnel.

Ecuador’s government also objected to his online commentary about sensitive political issues in other countries, such as the Catalonia separatist movement in Spain.

“If Mr Assange wants to stay and he follows the rules ... he can stay at the embassy as long as he wants,” said attorney general Inigo Salvador, adding that Mr Assange’s stay had cost the country $6m (£4.7m).

Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno says embassy will continue to protect Julian Assange

Mr Assange took refuge in the embassy six years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden for a sexual assault case which was later dropped.

He remains in the embassy to avoid being jailed by the UK for violating the terms of his bail, which he has said would result in him being handed over to Washington DC.

The United Kingdom assured Mr Assange in August that he would not be extradited if he left the embassy, Mr Salvador told reporters last week.

Mr Assange initially enjoyed an amicable relationship with Ecuador’s president at the time, Rafael Correa, but relations with his host nation have steadily deteriorated.

The South American country’s current president, Lenin Moreno, has warned him not to meddle in matters which could jeopardise Ecuador’s foreign relations.

Additional reporting by agencies

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