- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2018

Ecuadorian officials plan to meet with attorneys for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange next week to discuss his future living inside its embassy in London, Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said Wednesday.

The delegation will meet with Mr. Assange’s lawyers in London to consider matters including Ecuador’s decision this week to suspended his internet privileges, said Ms. Espinosa, according to news reports.

“We are evaluating the measures with our lawyers,” said Ms. Espinosa, The New York Times reported. “We will explore what are the alternatives that allow us the framework of international law and our own legislation and Ecuadorean Constitution.”

“The most important thing is that Ecuador maintains a dialogue with the United Kingdom to find a definitive and lasting solution to this situation that the current government has inherited,” Ms. Espinosa added.

Mr. Assange, 46, received asylum from Ecuador while under house arrest nearly six years ago amid being wanted for questioning by Swedish authorities over allegations of rape. Sweden dropped that probe in 2017, but British authorities said they will arrest Mr. Assange if he exits the embassy since he breached his bail conditions by entering, potentially putting him on the path to being extradited to the United States and tried in connection with WikiLeaks’ publication of classified U.S. State and Defense Department documents.

Ecuadorannounced earlier Wednesday that Mr. Assange had his internet privileges revoked as a result of recent social media posts, citing a written commitment the WikiLeaks chief allegedly signed in 2017 in which he promised not to interfere in other states.

“The Government of Ecuador warns that the behavior of Assange, with its messages through social networks, puts at risk the good relations that the country maintains with the United Kingdom, with the rest of the States of the European Union and other nations,” the office of President Lenin Moreno said in a statement.

WikiLeaks said through its Twitter account Wednesday that Mr. Assange had his internet access revoked because he refused to delete a tweet that compared modern Germany to the Nazi regime in response to the recent arrest of Catalonian separatist leader Carles Puigdemont on behalf of Spanish authorities.

“In 1940 the elected president of Catalonia, Lluís Companys, was captured by the Gestapo, at the request of Spain, delivered to them and executed. Today, German police have arrested the elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, at the request of Spain, to be extradited,” Mr. Assange tweeted Monday.

The government of Ecuador sent an email to Mr. Assange’s lawyers on Tuesday and asked him to remove the tweet, but he refused, WikiLeaks tweeted Wednesday.

Ecuador has not publicly stated which post or posts spurred the suspension.

Ecuador previously suspended Mr. Assange’s internet access after WikiLeaks published documents during the 2016 U.S. presidential race damaging to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The Obama administration subsequently assessed that Russian state-sponsored hackers had sourced the documents published by WikiLeaks as part of a Kremlin-authorized interference campaign.


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