Julian Assange is Suing the Embassy that’s Been Offering Him Asylum
The Ecuadorian Embassy recently demanded that Assange clean his bathroom, feed his cat, and stay out of heated online debates. Now he's suing them for it.
Julian Assange at a press conference in 2014. Image via Wikimedia
Julian Assange sounds like a terrible housemate. Last week it was revealed that the WikiLeaks founder, who currently resides at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, was handed a list of “house rules” that he has to abide by if he wants to continue using the internet. The rules do not seem unreasonable: Assange has essentially been asked to clean his own bathroom, pay for his own food, laundry, and phone calls, and take proper care of his own “Embassy Cat”. If he refuses to meet these basic standards of adult living, he won’t be allowed online.
Assange is none too impressed with all these “rules” and “regulations”. So he's filed a lawsuit against both the embassy and Foreign Minister Jose Valencia, who has been serving as the intermediary between Assange and the Ecuadorian Government, the ABC reports.
"He has been held in inhuman conditions for more than six years," said Baltasar Garzon, Assange’s lawyer, at a press conference in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito. Garzon pointed out that "Even people who are imprisoned have phone calls paid for by the state", and went on to claim that the stipulations concerning the cat were “denigrating”.
It's probably worth noting that the Ecuadorian Embassy has been been something of a safe haven for Assange, who was granted asylum there by former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa in 2012 so that he could avoid being extradited to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault. Britain has been quite clear about the fact that they will arrest him as soon as he leaves—if he ever does—and Assange himself is of the belief that in that event he would be handed over to the United States to face prosecution over the whole WikiLeaks thing, whereby he published hundreds of thousands of classified military documents.
UK Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire has previously criticised Ecuador's continued hosting of Assange, saying: "Ecuador must recognise that its decision to harbour Mr Assange... has prevented the proper course of justice... It is completely unacceptable that the British taxpayer has had to foot the bill for this abuse of diplomatic relations."
Current Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has explicitly admitted that Assange cannot stay in the embassy forever, but is reportedly concerned that kicking him out would be in violation of his human rights. A recent statement by WikiLeaks claims that even these recent measures—which are allegedly aimed at censoring Assange’s freedom of speech and opinion—“have been widely condemned by the human rights community”, the Independent reports.
Foreign minister Valencia told reporters that the Government would respond to the lawsuit "in an appropriate manner", and insisted that the rules and protocols issued to Assange were “in line with international standards and Ecuadorian law.”
This article originally appeared on VICE AU.