- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno labeled Julian Assange a “cyber terrorist” on Wednesday while defending his administration’s decision to stop shielding the wanted WikiLeaks publisher.

The president called Mr. Assange a “terrorista informático” during an interview conducted by the BBC on the heels of Quito cutting ties with the WikiLeaks chief last week.

“He does not give out the information he has. He selects them conveniently and according to his ideological commitments,” Mr. Moreno said in Spanish.

Mr. Assange, an Australian, sought refuge in 2012 inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid prosecution related to publishing classified U.S. documents. He was granted asylum by Mr. Moreno’s predecessor, Rafael Correa, and lived inside the building for roughly seven years prior to being ejected last Thursday as a result of having his status revoked by the current administration in Quito.

“He exhausted our patience and pushed our tolerance to the limit,” Mr. Moreno said.

Mr. Assange was arrested after losing asylum over charges pending in the U.K. and U.S. for breaching bail and conspiracy to commit computer hacking, respectively. He faces extradition to the latter and upwards of five years imprisonment if convicted.

The. U.S. Department of Justice has accused Mr. Assange, 47, of attempting in 2010 to help former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning crack a password that could have allowed her to steal and then leak classified military documents.

Manning, 31, was convicted by an Army judge in 2013 of related charges including espionage, theft and hacking. She was released early from prison in 2017 but has been jailed since last month for refusing to cooperate with prosecutors probing those leaks as part of the Justice Department’s longstanding WikiLeaks probe.

Speaking to BBC, Mr. Moreno accused Mr. Assange of violating the terms of his asylum by interfering in the politics of foreign countries from inside the embassy. He noted the release by WikiLeaks during the 2016 U.S. presidential race of internal Democratic emails, among other materials, and called his actions “unacceptable” and “not in line with his condition of any asylee.”

“We put his life and rights above all his, his right to be unharmed nor extradited to any country where he would be tortured or subject to the death penalty,” Mr. Moreno said.

“He did not behave the way an asylee should, with respect to the country that has warmly welcomed him, sheltered him and given him food for all that time.”

WikiLeaks said through its Twitter account Wednesday that recent comments from Ecuador’s president “are a crude attempt to distract from Moreno’s own corruption scandals in Ecuador and the cowardly expulsion of our publisher into the reach of US authorities.”

An extradition hearing for Mr. Assange has been set for May 2 in London.

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