Ecuador has revoked the citizenship of Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, who is currently in a British prison.
Ecuador’s justice system has nullified Assange’s citizenship, which was granted in January 2018 as part of a failed attempt by Ecuador’s then-government to turn him into a diplomat in order to get him out of its embassy where he was staying.
Ecuadorian authorities say Assange’s naturalisation letter had inconsistencies, different signatures, the possible alteration of documents, unpaid fees and other issues.
Carlos Poveda, Assange’s lawyer, told The Associated Press that he would appeal the ruling. The decision was made without due process and Assange was not allowed to appear in the case, he said.
“On the date [Assange] was cited he was deprived of his liberty and with a health crisis inside the deprivation of liberty centre where he was being held,” Poveda said.
Poveda said he will file appeals asking for an amplification and clarification of the decision. “More than the importance of nationality, it is a matter of respecting rights and following due process in withdrawing nationality.”
Ecuador’s foreign ministry told AP that the court had “acted independently and followed due process in a case that took place during the previous government and that was raised by the same previous government.”
Assange, 50, is wanted in the US for 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over the publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents by Wikileaks. The charges carry a potential sentence of 175 years in prison. Assange’s defenders argue that he was acting as a journalist and exposed US military wrongdoing.
Assange spent seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London with asylum status, avoiding extradition to Sweden to face questions over rape allegations that he denied. In 2019 Sweden dropped its sex crime investigations because so much time had elapsed.
In 2019 he was arrested after Ecuador revoked his asylum status and invited the Metropolitan Police into the embassy. He was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching bail conditions related to a separate legal battle. Since then he has been in the high-security Belmarsh prison.
In January a British judge ruled that he could not be extradited to the US on the grounds that he would potentially take his own life, but earlier this month the High Court granted the US government permission to appeal this decision.