By Alexandra Valencia QUITO (Reuters) – – Ecuador is not planning to intervene with the British government on behalf of…
By Alexandra Valencia
QUITO (Reuters) – – Ecuador is not planning to intervene with the British government on behalf of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in talks about his situation as an asylee in the South American country’s London Embassy, Ecuador’s foreign minister said This tuesday.
“Ecuador has no responsibility to take any further action,” said Valencia. “We are not Mr. Assange’s lawyers, nor are we representatives of the British government. This is an issue to be resolved between Assange and Britain.”
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not respond immediately to e-mails seeking
Greg Barns, an Australian lawyer who advised Assange, said in an email that “recent developments” showed that the Australian government should intervene to help “one of its citizens facing real danger.”
This position marks a deviation from Ecuador’s previous practice of maintaining dialogue with the British authorities over Assange’s situation since granting asylum in 2012 when he resided in Ecuador London embassy after British courts ordered his extradition to Sweden to ask questions in one
The case has since been lost, but friends and supporters have said that Assange now fears he could be arrested and eventually handed over to the United States if he leaves the embassy.
WikiLeaks, who published US diplomatic and military secrets when Assange ran the operation, faces an American jury investigation.
Valencia said he was “frustrated” by Assange’s decision to file a suit in an Ecuadorian court last week about new conditions for his asylum, which required him to pay for medical bills and phone calls and to clean up after his pet tax.
“There is no obligation in international agreements for Ecuador to pay for things like Mr. Assange’s laundry,” he said.
The president of the Ekuador, Lenin Moreno, has said that asylum is not meant to be eternal, but he has expressed concern about the possibility that Assange can be handed over to the United States. Valencia said Tuesday that he has not discussed Assanges situation with the United States government.
Ecuador gave Assange Ecuadorian citizenship in December, attempting to name him as a member of the country’s diplomatic missions in Britain and Russia, which could have assured him safe passage to leave the embassy. Great Britain denied request.
(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia, Writing by Luc Cohen, Editing by Toni Reinhold and Michael Perry)