Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno has accused Julian Assange of violating the terms of his asylum and leaking private photos of Moreno’s family and friends online in the latest dust-up between the WikiLeaks founder and his increasingly frustrated hosts.
Speaking to the Ecuadorean Radio Broadcasters’ Association yesterday, Moreno suggested that Assange had been intercepting the president’s private messages and had even leaked “photos of my bedroom, what I eat, and how my wife and daughters and friends dance,” according to the Associated Press. Moreno reportedly provided no evidence of the hacking.
Assange has been holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London since he jumped bail on sexual assault-related charges from Sweden in 2012. Those charges have since been dropped over a technicality, but Assange still considers himself a prisoner in the embassy despite the fact that he’s free to leave at any time. Assange has maintained for some time that he fears he’ll be extradited to the United States where prosecutors have filed unknown criminal charges against him.
The white-haired shit-stirrer also claims that he’s being silenced because his internet access in the embassy was abruptly cut off a year ago. Officials from Ecuador accused Assange of meddling in international politics before his internet access was taken away.
“Mr. Assange has violated the agreement we reached with him and his legal counsel too many times,” Moreno said, according to an English translation by Reuters. “It is not that he cannot speak and express himself freely, but he cannot lie, nor much less hack private accounts or phones.”
Back in January of 2018, Moreno called Assange a “nuisance” and an “inherited problem.” Ecuador’s previous president, Rafael Correa, was the one to originally grant Assange asylum and Moreno has seemed far less tolerant of Assange’s provocative behavior. WikiLeaks has suggested that Moreno’s real problem is that Ecuador’s alleged corruption has been exposed through the so-called INA Papers. Moreno is facing a corruption investigation brought by a rival lawmaker who suggests he took money from a Chinese company for a hydroelectric dam project. The money was allegedly laundered through a shell company in Panama, according to Venezuelan state media.
“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 in a statement to the Associated Press.
Assange, an Australian national, was given Ecuadorian citizenship in January of 2018 during an attempt to give him diplomatic immunity. Ecuador hoped that the move would allow Assange to leave the London embassy and find refuge in another country, but that plan failed.
Assange previously said that he would leave the embassy in London if whistleblower Chelsea Manning was released from prison. President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence shortly before leaving office in 2017, but Assange went back on his promise and said that President Obama only did it to make Assange look like a liar. Last month, Manning was placed back in solitary confinement, a punishment considered to be torture by prisoner advocacy organizations, for refusing to answer grand jury questions about WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks often tweets far-right talking points these days, and Assange has proved to be an unlikely ally of authoritarian-minded leaders around the world, like President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Assange has reportedly turned down dirt on the government of Russia, and the WikiLeaks Twitter account exchanged DMs with President Trump’s son Don Jr. in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election. That communication continued after the election as well, when WikiLeaks suggested that President Trump himself should appoint Assange to a position as an Australian government official.
“It would be real easy and helpful for your dad to suggest that Australia appoint Assange ambassador to DC,” the WikiLeaks account told Donald Trump Jr. via Twitter DM roughly a month after Trump won.
Assange’s worldview, already strange by any normal human standards, has led his behavior to become more and more bizarre the longer he stays in the embassy. As just one example, the WikiLeaks team released a statement this past January with a “confidential” list of things that journalists were forbidden from saying about Julian Assange. The list reads like the rantings of someone who’s truly unhinged.
Some things that journalists aren’t supposed to say about Assange, according to the list released by WikiLeaks:
It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange stinks.
It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever tortured a cat or dog.
It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange does not use cutlery or does not wash his hands.
It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange lives, or has ever lived, in a basement, cupboard or under the stairs.
It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever played soccer or used a skateboard during week days or office hours at the embassy.
It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks or Julian Assange is tied to, or is close to, the Kremlin.
Assange will have been in the embassy for a full seven years this coming June. And it’s clearly taking a toll on him physically and mentally, as it would anybody. But Ecuador might be the only real friend he has left. And given the constant squabbling, that friendship looks like it’s about to break for good.