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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Ecuador president accuses Assange of using embassy as ‘centre of spying’

Video footage emerges of the WikiLeaks founder skateboarding inside the Ecuador embassy

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at the Westminster Magistrates Court, after he was arrested in London, Britain April 11, 2019. Reuteres 
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at the Westminster Magistrates Court, after he was arrested in London, Britain April 11, 2019. Reuteres 

Ecuador President Lenin Moreno has accused Julian Assange of using Ecuador’s London embassy as a “centre of spying” to “interfere” in other countries.

The relationship between the two men looks to have deteriorated in recent months, culminating in the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder last Thursday.

“Any attempt to destabilise is a reprehensible act for Ecuador, because we are a sovereign nation and respectful of the politics of each country,” Mr Moreno told the Guardian newspaper.

“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.”

Ecuador’s President said no other country including the US exerted “external pressures” to arrest Mr Assange.

“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,” he said.

“The withdrawal of his asylum occurred in strict adherence to international law. It is a sovereign decision. We do not make decisions based on external pressures from any country.”

Mr Assange has been accused of anti-social behaviour and poor manners during his time in the embassy.

Video footage emerged on Sunday of the WikiLeaks founder skateboarding in the embassy wearing shorts and a vest.

Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo accused Mr Assange of smearing his own faeces on the walls of the embassy and not regularly showering. Lawyer’s representing Mr Assange say he has “stomach problems”.

Ecuador’s President criticised Mr Assange for “reprehensible and outrageous” behaviour towards Ecuadorian staff for almost seven years.

“He mistreated our officials in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, abused the patience of Ecuadorians. He developed an aggressive campaign against Ecuador and started to make legal threats even against who was helping him.”

Ecuador’s President said the UK has provided written guarantees on Mr Assange would not be extradited to a country that could threaten his life.

“The United Kingdom extended written guarantees that if extradition is eventually requested, he will not be extradited to any country where it may suffer such treatment.”

Mr Assange appeared at Westminster Crown Court shortly after British police entered the embassy to arrest him on Thursday.

Mr Assange is accused of conspiring with former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning who leaked documents to the group, the US Justice Department said. It claimed that Mr Assange helped Manning crack a password of a US Defence Department computer holding classified documents.

The US has accused Mr Assange of putting civilian lives in danger for leaking material that could land in the hands of the Taliban, it says.

Lawyer Jennifer Robinson on Sunday refuted the claims.

“There’s constant accusations that WikiLeaks somehow causes damage to people. There’s no evidence anyone has been killed by WikiLeaks publications’”

Mr Assange pleaded not guilty to sharing classified information and has not consented to his extradition to the US.

He faces upto 12 months in prison for breaching domestic bail conditions.

Meanwhile, the fallout from Assange's even year stay at Ecuador's London embassy is an eyesore for some locals.

Bedding, mattresses, bin bags and other waste have been left outside the embassy in full view of the public. It is believed that the rubbish comes from supporters of Assange and possibly the WikiLeaks founder himself.

One tourist said she found the junk an "eyesore" on the West London street, just yards away from luxury store Harrods.

"It looks like they (the embassy) have tried hiding the rubbish but you can still see all the bed frames and bin bags," said Mariam Mousidi, a Jordanian holiday-maker in London.

It wasn't just a sight for sore eyes though.

"You can smell a trace of urine when you walk past. It really isn't great, especially being so close to Harrods where there's probably a lot of high end shoppers wanting a nice day out", said Abdul Farooq, a student working at a nearby cafe.

Updated: April 15, 2019 05:53 PM

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