President of Ecuador claims Julian Assange used embassy as a ‘centre for spying’

The President of Ecuador claims Julian Assange violated the terms of his asylum in his country’s embassy by using it as a ‘centre for spying’.

Lenín Moreno told the Guardian that the decision to end Assange’s asylum suddenly last week was based on the WikiLeaks founder allegedly ‘breaking international law’.

Moreno said Assange had ‘attempted to intefere in processes of other states’ during his time at the embassy in London

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Ecuador President Lenin Moreno claimed Julian Assange used the Ecuadorean embassy as a 'centre for spying'

Ecuador President Lenin Moreno claimed Julian Assange used the Ecuadorean embassy as a 'centre for spying'

Ecuador President Lenin Moreno claimed Julian Assange used the Ecuadorean embassy as a ‘centre for spying’

Jennifer Robinson, Assange's lawyer, says claims he smeared faeces on the walls of his apartment in the Knightsbridge embassy were lies used to force him out

Jennifer Robinson, Assange's lawyer, says claims he smeared faeces on the walls of his apartment in the Knightsbridge embassy were lies used to force him out

Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s lawyer, says claims he smeared faeces on the walls of his apartment in the Knightsbridge embassy were lies used to force him out

‘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.

‘We can not allow our house, the house that opened its doors, to become a centre for spying,’ Moreno said, in an apparent reference to the leaked pictures.

‘This activity violates asylum conditions. Our decision is not arbitrary but is based on international law’.

Assange lived in the embassy for more than seven years before his arrest on Thursday. 

Moreno also previously accused the Australian of ‘discourteous and aggressive behaviour’ as he confirmed the south American country had withdrawn his asylum status. 

Moreno also previously accused the Australian of 'discourteous and aggressive behaviour'

Moreno also previously accused the Australian of 'discourteous and aggressive behaviour'

Moreno also previously accused the Australian of ‘discourteous and aggressive behaviour’ 

Rafael Correa, Ecuadorian president when Assange was granted asylum, branded Moreno a traitor.

But the country’s Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo hit back by claiming Correa had allowed the 47-year-old to get away with some unimaginable behaviour. 

She said: ‘During his stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy, during the government of the former president Rafael Correa, they tolerated things like Mr Assange putting faeces on the walls of the embassy and other types of behaviour of this kind that is far removed from the minimum respect a guest should have in a country which has generously welcomed him.’

Was Julian Assange expelled from the embassy over a leaked picture of a lobster? Snap of Ecuador’s president eating in bed got Assange pinched

A spat over scoffing lobster in bed was behind Julian Assange’s exit from the Ecuadorian embassy last week and the ensuing political storm over what to do with the WikiLeaks fugitive.

Assange’s seven-year stay at the Knightsbridge embassy ended when he was handcuffed at the behest of his exasperated South American hosts and dragged out by officers from Scotland Yard.

Last night, it emerged that Assange was removed after embarrassing pictures of Ecuador president Lenin Moreno dining on lobster at a luxury hotel room were leaked to a website.

In February, more than 200 private emails and text messages belonging to Mr Moreno and his wife, as well as pictures of the family on lavish holidays in Europe, were leaked to a site called INApapers.org.

An embarrassing photo of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno lying in bed enjoying a plate of lobster emerged online

An embarrassing photo of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno lying in bed enjoying a plate of lobster emerged online

An embarrassing photo of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno lying in bed enjoying a plate of lobster emerged online

Assange being driven in handcuffs to Westminster Magistrates Court in London by police on Thursday

Assange being driven in handcuffs to Westminster Magistrates Court in London by police on Thursday

Assange being driven in handcuffs to Westminster Magistrates Court in London by police on Thursday

The most embarrassing photos were of Mr Moreno eating lobster in his hotel bed. The pictures caused uproar in Ecuador since it showed the president luxuriating at a time when he had imposed austerity measures on his people.

Last night, The Mail on Sunday was able to find the photograph on several Twitter pages, as well as Spanish-language websites, including the Republic del Banano site.

Mr Moreno has accused Assange of leaking the material, a claim which WikiLeaks has always denied. On Thursday, as Assange was being dragged out of the embassy, Mr Moreno told reporters he did not have the right to ‘hack private phones’.

But WikiLeaks said in a statement on its website: ‘In short, the [Ecuadorian] government seeks a false pretext to end the asylum and protection of Julian Assange.’

After Assange was arrested, it emerged that he led an erratic and squalid lifestyle at the embassy. He was accused of smearing walls with excrement and blocking a toilet with soiled underwear.

Now Westminster is divided over whether to extradite him to the United States, where he is wanted for releasing millions of secret documents online, or to Sweden, where he has been accused of rape.

The decision will be for Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who has made clear ‘all options are on the table’.

A Home Office source said: ‘He is calmly establishing what Home Office policy levers are at his disposal to make sure that Mr Assange faces justice, which he believes is absolutely essential.’

Assange can only be extradited to Sweden if the country’s prosecuting authority reopens its investigation and its government issues a fresh European Arrest Warrant. If Assange is extradited there, he will face a charge of rape against a woman identified only as W. Assange has always denied the charge.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott sparked outrage last week by appearing to downplay the sex assault allegations, claiming Assange was being targeted because he had embarrassed the US military. Within hours, Labour was accused of a total about-turn after Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry told the BBC he should face justice in Sweden.

That was followed yesterday by a letter from Ms Abbott herself to colleagues saying ‘rape is a heinous crime’. She added that the UK should extradite Assange to Sweden if the authorities there reopened their investigations.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a statement to the media and supporters from a window of the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a statement to the media and supporters from a window of the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a statement to the media and supporters from a window of the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added: ‘If there are allegations which Julian Assange needs to answer of sexual issues, sexual attacks that may or may not have taken place in Sweden, then it’s a matter for the courts to decide but I do think he should answer those questions.’

Tory chairman Brandon Lewis said: ‘No one should be above the law, yet the fact that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour were so quick to jump to the defence of someone facing such serious allegations speaks volumes.’

Last night, a lawyer acting for woman W in Sweden said: ‘We hope the British authorities will co-operate so that Assange can be extradited to Sweden before the statute of limitations for the rape allegation expires in August 2020.’

 

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