WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange is being subjected to “basically torture” because Ecuador has blocked him from receiving visitors at his residence within its London embassy, the country’s former president said Wednesday.
Rafael Correa, the former president of Ecuador responsible for granting asylum to Mr. Assange in 2012, criticized his successor’s government in an interview over its current policies prohibiting the WikiLeaks chief from receiving visitors and accessing the internet during the last 50 days at the London embassy, his home for roughly the last six years.
Denial of visitors constitutes “basically torture” and “a clear violation of his rights,” Mr. Correa told The Intercept.
“Once we give asylum to someone, we are responsible for his safety, for ensuring humane living conditions,” Mr. Correa told the website. But “without communications to the outside world and visits from anyone, the government is basically attacking Julian’s mental health.”
Mr. Assange, 46, entered the embassy in June 2012 and subsequently sought asylum from Ecuador in lieu of being sent to Sweden and questioned over allegations of sexual assault. Swedish prosecutors ultimately dropped their rape probe in 2017, but British authorities said they will arrest Mr. Assange if he leaves the building anyway since he allegedly breached the conditions of his bail by entering the embassy in the first place.
The Department of Justice is investigating WikiLeaks over the website’s release of classified documents, and Mr. Assange previously said he worries he’ll be extradited to the U.S. if arrested by British authorities and prosecuted over the publications.
The WikiLeaks publisher has been silent since March 27, however, when Ecuador abruptly severed his internet connecting and began blocking him from receiving visitors.
“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,” Ecuador’s government said at the time without providing specific examples.
WikiLeaks has previously described Mr. Assange’s current condition at the embassy as “effective solitary confinement.”