Ecuador, Britain in talks over Assange fate: Ecuadorian president

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, in this May 19, 2017 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 30 July 2018

Ecuador, Britain in talks over Assange fate: Ecuadorian president

  • Assange sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations, which he denies
  • Swedish authorities dropped their investigations last year, but British authorities still want to arrest him for breaching bail conditions

MADRID: Ecuador is in talks with Britain over the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up at Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 when he was granted political asylum, the country’s president said in an interview published Sunday.
“The issue of Mr. Assange is being treated with the British government and I understand that we have already established contact with Mr. Assange’s lawyers so we can find a way out,” Ecuador President Lenin Moreno told top-selling Spanish daily newspaper El Pais.
“Mr. Assange has been in this situation for over five years and we have to find a way out for him. A way out that defends his rights, mainly his right to life, and which at the same time can give Ecuador the possibility to not have what, without a doubt, represents a problem for our country.”
Assange, 47, sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations, which he denies.
The Australian computer programmer claims the accusations were politically motivated and could lead to his extradition to the United States to face imprisonment over WikiLeaks’s publication of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.
Swedish authorities dropped their investigations last year, but British authorities still want to arrest him for breaching bail conditions.
In March, Ecuador cut off Assange’s ability to communicate with the outside world after he broke a 2017 promise to not interfere in other countries’ affairs while in the mission.
Assange particularly drew the ire of Ecuador by angering the Spanish government with his support for separatist leaders in Spain’s Catalonia region who sought to secede last year.
Moreno, who visited Spain and Britain last week, said the “ideal” solution would involve Assange accepting a “penalty” for having breached British bail conditions and then be “extradited to a country where he does not face any danger.”


UK to deploy military to prevent migrant Channel crossings

The Royal Navy has been deployed as recently as January 2019 in an attempt to reduce the number of refugees and migrants arriving to the UK via the English Channel. (Reuters)
Updated 10 August 2020

UK to deploy military to prevent migrant Channel crossings

  • French parliamentarian called the plans a “political measure” that would not help the situation.
  • Roughly 4,000 people have made the dangerous trip from France to the UK so far this year.

LONDON: The UK has announced it will use the military to prevent migrants entering the country from France via the English Channel, but the plans have drawn criticism from French politicians and rights groups in the UK.

More than 4,000 people have successfully made the crossing so far this year, and many of those have done so in small and overburdened boats.

Responding to the escalating number of people attempting the journey, the Home Office officially requested last week that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) assist the Border Force in its duties.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said her department was “working to make this route unviable” and announced on Sunday the appointment of a former Royal Marine to manage the government’s response to the crossings.

In response to Patel’s request, the MoD announced on Monday that it would send a Royal Air Force plane with spotters on board to assist the Border Force in its operations in the English Channel.

But the issue has caused tension between the UK and France.

The French National Assembly member for Calais, Pierre-Henri Dumont, slammed the decision to use the military to prevent crossings as a useless “political measure.”

He said: “What is the British navy going to do if it sees a small boat? Is it going to shoot the boat? Is it going to enter French waters? It’s a political measure to show some kind of muscle but technically speaking it won’t change anything.”

Paris has also requested that London provides £30 million to fund French efforts to prevent migrants from attempting the dangerous crossing from their side.

Patel’s decision to use the military to prevent Channel crossings has also drawn condemnation from human rights groups.

Bella Sankey, a barrister and director of Detention Action said: “The home secretary’s hysterical plea to the navy is as irresponsible as it is ironic. Pushbacks at sea are unlawful and would threaten human lives.

“No civilised country can even consider this, let alone a country with a tradition of offering sanctuary to those fleeing persecution,” she added.

Migration has long been a hot button issue in British politics, and this will not be the first time authorities have used the military to enforce migration policies.

In January 2019, the Royal Navy sent three ships to the Channel to prevent migrant crossings, saying at the time that the deployment would “help prevent migrants from making the dangerous journey.”