Julian Assange files case against Ecuador for 'violating rights'

WikiLeaks founder has lived in Quito's embassy in London since Swedish prosecutors filed rape charges in 2012.

    Assange seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2017 [Peter Nicholls/Reuters]
    Assange seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2017 [Peter Nicholls/Reuters]

    Julian Assange has launched a case against the Ecuadorian government for alleged "violation of fundamental rights", the latest episode in an escalating row between the Australian founder of anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks and his host government.

    In a statement released on Friday, WikiLeaks said its lawyer Baltasar Garzon arrived in Ecuador on Thursday to file the case.

    Assange has been living in Ecuador's embassy in London since 2012 when Swedish prosecutors filed rape charges against him.

    The prosecutors have since dropped the charges but Assange faces arrest by British authorities for fleeing justice in the Swedish case.

    He fears UK authorities will then allow his extradition to the United States where he is wanted for publication by WikiLeaks of classified information in 2010.

    "The move comes almost seven months after Ecuador threatened to remove his protection and summarily cut off his access to the outside world, including by refusing to allow journalists and human rights organisations to see him, and installing three signal jammers in the embassy to prevent his phone calls and internet access," the WikiLeaks statement read.

    The organisation further accused Ecuador of allying itself with the US under President Lenin Moreno.

    Assange was given sanctuary in the building by Moreno's predecessor Rafael Correa.

    The move to start legal proceedings comes just days after Ecuador issued Assange with a list of rules to obey if he wanted to continue living in the embassy.

    They included household rules, such as cleaning the bathroom and looking after his cat, to more politically motivated ones, such as not to partake in any activity deemed to be interfering in the internal affairs of states.

    Failure to abide by the rules would result in the termination of his asylum in the embassy, the Ecuadorian government said, according to the memo, seen by The Guardian newspaper.

    Assange's access to the internet was also cut off in March but has since been partially restored.

    WikiLeaks gained international attention for publishing a number of high profile leaks, including evidence of alleged US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables sent from US embassies.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News