WikiLeaks founder Assange breached terms of London embassy asylum: Ecuador’s president

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange greets supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London in this May 19, 2017 file photo. (AP)
Updated 03 April 2019

WikiLeaks founder Assange breached terms of London embassy asylum: Ecuador’s president

  • President Lenin Moreno: Assange does not have the right to ‘hack private accounts or phones’
  • ‘Mr. Assange has violated the agreement we reached with him and his legal counsel too many times’

QUITO: President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador told radio stations on Tuesday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has “repeatedly violated” the terms of his asylum in the Andean nation’s London embassy, where he has lived for nearly seven years.
Moreno, interviewed by the Ecuadorean Radio Broadcasters’ Association, said Assange does not have the right to “hack private accounts or phones” and cannot intervene in the politics of other countries, especially those that have friendly relations with Ecuador.
Attorneys for Assange did not respond to requests for comment.
Moreno made the comments on Assange after private photographs of him and his family at a time years ago when they were living in Europe circulated on social media. Although Moreno stopped short of explicitly blaming Assange for the leak, the government said it believed the photos were shared by WikiLeaks.
“Mr. Assange has violated the agreement we reached with him and his legal counsel too many times,” Moreno said in the interview in the city of Guayaquil. “It is not that he cannot speak and express himself freely, but he cannot lie, nor much less hack private accounts or phones.”
Moreno did not say whether or not the government would take steps to remove Assange from the embassy.
WikiLeaks said in an emailed statement that Moreno’s remarks were in retribution for WikiLeaks having reported on corruption accusations against Moreno, who denies wrongdoing.
“If President Moreno wants to illegally terminate a refugee publisher’s asylum to cover up an offshore corruption scandal, history will not be kind,” WikiLeaks said.
Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation.
That probe was later dropped, but Assange fears he could be extradited to face charges in the United States, where federal prosecutors are investigating WikiLeaks.
Ecuador last year established new rules for Assange’s behavior while in the embassy, which required him to pay his medical bills and clean up after his pet cat. He challenged the rules in local and international tribunals, arguing they violated his human rights. Both courts ruled against him.
Last month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is linked to the Organization of American States, rejected Assange’s request that Ecuador ease the conditions it has imposed on his residence in the London embassy.
Assange says Ecuador is seeking to end his asylum and is putting pressure on him by isolating him from visitors and spying on him. Ecuador has said its treatment of Assange was in line with international law, but that his situation “cannot be extended indefinitely.”


Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

Updated 19 October 2019

Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

  • The chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons for missing the timetable
  • She said the results would be announced “as soon as possible”

KABUL: Afghanistan’s election commission conceded its failure to release initial presidential poll results set for Saturday and gave no new deadline for the vote which was marred by Taliban attacks and irregularities.
The presidential poll on Sept. 28 saw the lowest turnout of any elections in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ousting.
Hawa Alam Nuristani, the chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons, particularly slowness in entering data on to the server, for missing the timetable.
“Regrettably, the commission due to technical issues and for the sake of transparency could not announce the presidential election initial poll results,” she said in a brief announcement.
Without naming any camp, Nuristani also said: “A number of observers of election sides (camps) illegally are disrupting the process of elections.” She did not elaborate.
Nuristani said the results would be announced “as soon as possible,” while earlier in the day two IEC members said privately that the delay would take up to a week.
The delay is another blow for the vote that has been twice delayed due to the government’s mismanagement and meetings between the US and the Taliban, which eventually collapsed last month after President Donald Trump declared the talks “dead.”
It further adds to political instability in Afghanistan, which has seen decades of conflict and foreign intervention and faced ethnic divides in recent years.
Both front-runners, President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s chief executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, have said that they expect to win.
The pair have been sharing power in Afghanistan as part of a US-brokered deal following the fraudulent polls of 2014.
The IEC has invalidated more than 500,000 votes because they were not conducted through biometric devices, bought for the vote from overseas to minimize the level of cheating in last month’s polls.
Officials of the commission said that nearly 1.8 million votes were considered clean and it was not clear what sort of impact the turnout would have on the legitimacy of the polls and the future government, whose main task will be to resume stalled peace talks with the Taliban.
They said that the slowness of data entry on to the server was one of the technical reasons for the delay in releasing initial poll results.
Yousuf Rashid, a senior official from an election watchdog group, described the delay as a “weakness of mismanagement,” while several lawmakers chided IEC for poor performance.
Abdul Satar Saadat, a former senior leader of an electoral body, told Arab News: “The delay showed IEC’s focus was on transparency” and that should be regarded as a sign that it took the issue of discarding fraudulent votes seriously.