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- Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was arrested at the Ecuadorean embassy on Thursday, tried to use the embassy as a “center for spying,” according to Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno.
- Moreno told The Guardian in an interview published on Sunday that Assange was illegally using the embassy to “interfere” with other democracies
- Assange was arrested by UK police on Thursday morning after Ecuador revoked his political asylum. He now faces possible extradition to the US to face charges related to hacking classified documents, which he is expected to fight.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was arrested on at the Ecuadorean embassy in London last Thursday, tried to use the embassy as a “center for spying,” according to Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno.
Moreno told The Guardian in a series of emails on Sunday that Assange was illegally using the embassy to “interfere” with other countries.
“Any attempt to destabilize is a reprehensible act for Ecuador, because we are a sovereign nation and respectful of the politics of each country,” Moreno told the Guardian.
“It is unfortunate that, from our territory and with the permission of authorities of the previous government, facilities have been provided within the Ecuadorian embassy in London to interfere in processes of other states.”
Assange was arrested by UK police on Thursday morning at the Ecuadorean embassy, after Ecuador revoked his political asylum. The whistleblower faced allegations of sexual assault in Sweden in 2012 before seeking protection inside the embassy.
Following the arrest on Thursday, Assange was taken to court in London and was convicted on a charge of skipping bail in 2012. He is now being held in one of Britain’s most notorious prisons and faces possible extradition to the US to face charges related to hacking classified documents, which he is expected to fight.
“We can not allow our house, the house that opened its doors, to become a center for spying,” Moreno said in the interview, apparently referencing leaked papers that allege corruption involving members of Moreno’s family.
WikiLeaks has denied that it published the anonymous papers, though the Ecuadorian government has responded harshly to the allegations.
“This activity violates asylum conditions. Our decision is not arbitrary but is based on international law.”
Moreno also told the Guardian that Ecuador did not receive outside pressure in its decision to cooperate with British authorities in order to remove Assange from the embassy.
“He was a guest who was offered a dignified treatment, but he did not have the basic principle of reciprocity for the country that knew how to welcome him, or the willingness to accept protocols [from] the country that welcomed him,” Moreno said.
“We do not make decisions based on external pressures from any country.”
Allegations of spying, skateboarding in the halls, and smearing “feces” on the walls
Ecuadorean officials on Thursday described the actions that they say led to Assange’s disposal from the embassy.
Among the allegations, the government said it spent $6.2 million on security and maintaining Assange at the embassy between 2012 and 2018.
Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo told reporters that Assange had gotten away with improper conduct, including putting “feces on the walls of the embassy and behaviors of that nature.” Moreno told the Guardian that Assange maintained “improper hygiene” which affected his health and the entire embassy environment.
Other embassy staff alleged that Assange would “play radio loudly” when meeting celebrity visitors, the likes of Pamela Anderson and Lady Gaga. The government also said it ordered the 47-year-old to stop riding his skateboard in the halls and to clean up after his cat “Michi,” who he took in as company during his nearly seven-year stay.
Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson denied allegations of poor behavior during Assange’s stay at the embassy, and said they are being used to “justify” Assange’s arrest at the hands of British police.