Published: Tue, April 16, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Ecuador's president says Assange tried to use its embassy to spy

Ecuador's president says Assange tried to use its embassy to spy

Belmarsh has frequently been used in high-profile national security cases, including that of former Finsbury Park Mosque hate preacher Abu Hamza, who now resides in a U.S. "supermax" prison following extradition.

A lawyer for the Australian hacker, who remains jailed in London pending a ruling on possible extradition to the USA, has accused Ecuador of hurling "outrageous allegations" to distract from their "unlawful" abandonment of her client. Assange had been confined to the embassy building for the past seven years, having violated his bail conditions in order to demand asylum over fears he could be extradited to Sweden following allegations of sexual assault. "Our decision is not arbitrary but is based on worldwide law".

Assange's lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, has denied the "outrageous" claims made by Ecuador about his behaviour at the embassy, including that he had to reminded to flush the toilet, didn't clean his dishes and left the cooker on.

Moreno accused Assange of using the embassy as a "centre for spying" in an interview with the UK's The Guardian newspaper after the arrest, and said that this was why Ecuador revoked his asylum. The first expired in 2015 and the other was dropped in 2017, but the alleged rape victim has now asked for the case to be reopened.

Assange has had "a very hard time" since Moreno took office in Ecuador in 2017, Robinson said. His extradition to the United States is being handled by the Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs, the DOJ said in a press release. "This case is and has always been about his concern about being sent to face American injustice". Assange is being held at Belmarsh Prison in London and is now expected to fight extradition to the United States over an allegation that he conspired with former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer.

Also Sunday, WikiLeaks said Australian Consul Clare West would visit the Ecuadoran embassy on Monday to request that the mission hand over Assange's belongings.

The three women were trying to see Assange in prison, but their application was "still pending".

Instead, they will hold a news conference outside the Belmarsh prison where Assange is being held, the German party Die Linke and WikiLeaks said.

Moreno, who was less sympathetic to Assange's cause than his left-wing predecessor Rafael Correa, had requested that he limit his online political presence, stop riding his skateboard in the embassy hall's and clean up after his cat.

He has not formally responded to the US conspiracy charge.

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