- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 30, 2018

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has suffered a setback in his efforts to overturn new rules imposed by Ecuador concerning his stay inside its embassy in London.

An Ecuadorian judge on Monday rejected Mr. Assange’s challenge against special protocols recently put in place by the government’s Foreign Ministry on his living situation and asylum status. The decision upheld new rules at the center of a lawsuit initiated earlier this month on behalf of the Australian native and longtime Ecuadorian Embassy resident.

The judge, Karina Martinez, dismissed Mr. Assange’s request for an injunction against the protocols at the culmination of a court hearing held in Quito, rejecting the WikiLeaks publisher’s argument that the restrictions violate his “fundamental rights and freedoms,” including his right to asylum, multiple outlets reported.

Mr. Assange’s legal team promptly appealed the decision, representatives for the WikiLeaks chief said afterwards.

WikiLeaks lawyer Baltasar Garzon filed the lawsuit earlier this month after Ecuador unilaterally implemented new rules on Mr. Assange, including restrictions on his access within the embassy to visitors and the internet, as well as measures relieving Quito of various costs related to his residency.

“He can stay as long as he wants inside the embassy. But given that his asylum has lasted for more than six years and there is no indication that it could be solved immediately, he needs to follow the certain rules and those are the ones included in the protocol,” Ecuador Attorney General Iñigo Salvador Cespo told CNN last week.

Mr. Assange, 46, was granted asylum shortly after entering the embassy in 2012, effectively shielding him from any charges brought by prosecutors in the U.S. or abroad in relation to WikiLeaks publishing government secrets dating back to the start of the Obama administration, including classified diplomatic, military and intelligence documents, among other materials.

British authorities have issued a warrant for Mr. Assange’s arrest, and he risks being apprehended upon exiting the embassy and being sent to the U.S., put on trial and potentially executed.

Addressing the court remotely during Monday’s hearing, Mr. Assange accused Ecuador of putting the protocols in place in order to expedite his exit and resolve the international impasse, according to court reporters.

“There’s a limit as to how low a country can stoop,” said Mr. Assange, Bloomberg reported.

Carlos Poveda, an attorney for Mr. Assange, said last week that the WikiLeaks publisher was open to surrendering to British authorities if it precluded the possibility of being extradited abroad.

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