Julian Assange’s lawyer says he has been held in inhuman conditions. (AP: Frank Augstein, File)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has filed a lawsuit in Ecuador against new terms of asylum in the Andean country’s London embassy that require him to pay for medical bills and phone calls and clean up after his pet cat, his lawyer says.
- Assange’s lawyer says his internet was cut off in March and he is being held in “inhuman conditions”
- Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno is reluctant to force Mr Assange out
- The Australian fears he will be handed over to the US if he leaves
Ecuador this month created the new protocol governing the Australian’s stay at the embassy.
Lawyer Baltasar Garzon told a press conference in Ecuador’s capital Quito that the rules were drawn up without consulting Mr Assange, who is now suing Foreign Minister Jose Valencia in a Quito court to have them changed.
Mr Assange has not had access to the internet since it was cut off in March, Mr Garzon added, despite a WikiLeaks statement this week that it had been restored.
“He has been held in inhuman conditions for more than six years,” Mr Garzon said.
“Even people who are imprisoned have phone calls paid for by the state,” he added, describing the obligations regarding the cat as “denigrating.”
Mr Garzon said Mr Valencia was named in the lawsuit because he served as the intermediary between Mr Assange and the Ecuadorean Government.
Mr Valencia said the Government would respond “in an appropriate manner”. “The protocol is in line with international standards and Ecuadorean law,” he told reporters.
Mr Assange’s stay has become an increasing annoyance for Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno, who has said Mr Assange cannot stay inside the embassy for ever, but has been reluctant to kick him out of the embassy because of concerns about his human rights.
Mr Assange believes he will be handed over to the United States to face prosecution over WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents if he leaves.
In 2012, former Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa granted Mr Assange asylum as he sought to avoid extradition to Sweden for interrogation on alleged sexual assault crimes.
Sweden later dropped its investigation, but Britain says he will be arrested for violating the terms of his bail if he leaves the embassy.
In 2017 Ecuador gave Mr Assange citizenship and named him to a diplomatic post in Russia, but rescinded the latter after Britain refused to give him diplomatic immunity, according to an Ecuadorean Government document seen by Reuters.