No extradition request for Assange, says Ecuador

People hold up images of Julian Assange that read in Spanish: ‘Ecuadorian’ as they counter-protest demands to remove his Ecuadorean nationality, in Quito. (AP Photo)
Updated 07 November 2018

No extradition request for Assange, says Ecuador

  • The 47-year-old Australian has been holed up at Ecuador's embassy since 2012
  • Ecuador has shown increasing signs in recent months that it is preparing to terminate his six-year stay

QUITO: Ecuador said Wednesday it has received no extradition request for Julian Assange, which his lawyers have long cited as the reason the WikiLeaks founder has refused to leave its London embassy.
“We have told Mr. Assange: ‘Up to now, as far as we know, there is no extradition request from any country,’” Foreign Minister Jose Valencia told state-owned Radio Public.
The 47-year-old Australian has been holed up at Ecuador’s embassy since 2012, but Ecuador has shown increasing signs in recent months that it is preparing to terminate his six-year stay.
Valencia said the cost of hosting Assange so far had come to around six million dollars.
Assange fears being extradited to the United States to face charges over the WikiLeaks website’s release of troves of sensitive US government files.
He found refuge in the embassy in London after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to face allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.
That case has since been dropped, but Britain still wants him to face justice over breaching his bail conditions following his arrest on the sexual assault allegations.
His lawyer Carlos Poveda said last month Assange was prepared to surrender to British police if he receives assurances he will not be extradited.
“What England asks of him is to appear before the British courts to answer for having broken the conditions of his provisional release,” the foreign minister said.
“We do not see the British changing their point of view, they continue to insist that he appear before the courts and that they will not give him safe passage to another country,” said Valencia.
Ecuador said it had been informed by Britain that the penalty for violating parole conditions would not be more than six months.
Assange is currently suing Ecuador on grounds that his rights were violated by its decision to restrict his Internet access. An Ecuadoran court threw out the lawsuit last week, but Assange is appealing.
Quito confirmed blocking Assange’s Internet and mobile phone access in March after accusing him of breaking “a written commitment” not to interfere in Ecuador’s foreign policies.
A protocol governing Assange’s stay at the embassy — revealed by Ecuadoran Internet site Codigo Vidrio and never denied by Quito — warns that further breaches will lead to “termination of asylum.”

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.