Ecuador president Lenin Moreno calls Julian Assange a ‘problem’

Julian Assange poses for a photo in an undisclosed location, in this undated picture obtained from social media. (Twitter / Julian Assange / via REUTERS)
Updated 22 January 2018

Ecuador president Lenin Moreno calls Julian Assange a ‘problem’

QUITO: The president of Ecuador Lenin Moreno on Sunday described WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as an “inherited problem” that has created “more than a nuisance” for his government.
“We hope to have a positive result” on the issue, he said in an interview with television networks.
Earlier this month, Ecuador announced it had granted citizenship to Assange, in an unsuccessful attempt to provide him with diplomatic immunity and usher him out of its London embassy without the threat of arrest by Britain.
Moreno said his country was continuing to seek mediation involving “important people,” without specifying whom he meant.
Assange fled to the embassy in 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden for alleged sex crimes, which he denies, and has remained in the building ever since.
Sweden later shelved its investigation, but Assange faces arrest by British authorities for fleeing justice in the Swedish case.
He fears British authorities will then allow his extradition to the United States where he is wanted for publication by WikiLeaks of classified information in 2010.
The WikiLeaks founder has strained the patience of his hosts since taking up the offer of asylum made by then-president Rafael Correa in 2012.
He was publicly reprimanded for interfering in the 2016 US election after publishing hacked emails from the campaign team of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
More recently, he drew the ire of Correa’s successor, President Moreno, when he used Twitter to pump out messages of support for Catalonia’s independence drive.
Moreno was forced to respond to complaints from the Spanish government.
Commenting on the move to designate Assange a diplomat, Moreno said: “This would have been a good result, unfortunately, things did not turn out as the foreign ministry planned and so the problem still exists.”
Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa has confirmed that Ecuador will maintain the asylum granted to Assange by the government of former president Rafael Correa.


Texas court halts execution in high-profile case

A woman holds a sign during a protest against the execution of Rodney Reed on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in Bastrop, Texas. (AP)
Updated 17 November 2019

Texas court halts execution in high-profile case

  • Millions of people, including US lawmakers and Hollywood celebrities Kim Kardashian and Susan Sarandon, have signed petitions supporting Reed

WASHINGTON: A Texas appeals court has suspended the execution of convicted murderer Rodney Reed — who has long claimed his innocence — in a case that has attracted widespread public attention and a celebrity-backed campaign.
Reed, a 51-year-old African-American, was sentenced to death in 1998 after being convicted by an all-white jury of the rape and murder of Stacey Stites, a 19-year-old white woman.
His execution by lethal injection had been set for November 20, but Reed says he did not commit the crime, and his lawyers and supporters say that evidence proves he is innocent.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles announced on Friday that it had “voted unanimously to recommend the governor grant a 120-day reprieve” to Reed, who had appealed for clemency.
The state appeals court then halted the execution later in the evening.
Millions of people, including US lawmakers and Hollywood celebrities Kim Kardashian and Susan Sarandon, have signed petitions supporting Reed.
Kardashian said on social media she was with Reed when he received news about the reprieve.
Although traces of Reed’s DNA were found in the victim, he has always maintained that he and Stites were secretly having an affair.
Reed’s lawyers say that evidence obtained after the trial points to another suspect — the victim’s fiance, Jimmy Fennell, a former policeman who later served a 10-year prison sentence for another rape.
“The strong evidence exonerating Mr.Reed and implicating Fennell continues to mount,” the lawyers wrote in the clemency petition lodged with the state’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott.
In the clemency request, they included a testimonial from a former co-worker of the victim who confirmed the affair.
According to another affidavit, a former prison inmate said he heard Fennell brag during a prison yard conversation about committing the murder.
Fennell has denied involvement in Stites’ murder.
The Texas board declined Reed’s request to downgrade his sentence.
His lawyers also have filed a petition with the US Supreme Court, seeking a stay of execution.