Ecuador president defends Assange asylum withdrawal

Ecuador president defends Assange asylum withdrawal

LONDON- Agence France-Presse
Ecuador president defends Assange asylum withdrawal

Ecuadoran President Lenin Moreno on April 14 defended his decision to overturn Julian Assange's asylum status, claiming in an interview with the Guardian newspaper that the WikiLeaks founder had tried to set up a "center for spying" in Ecuador's London embassy.

"It is unfortunate that, from our territory and with the permission of authorities of the previous government, facilities have been provided within the Ecuadoran embassy in London to interfere in processes of other states," Moreno said.

"We cannot allow our house, the house that opened its doors, to become a center for spying," added Moreno, who was elected in 2017.

"Our decision is not arbitrary but is based on international law," he said.

The WikiLeaks founder is in custody in London awaiting sentencing for breaching his British bail conditions in 2012 by seeking refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Assange's lawyer said his client would cooperate with Swedish authorities if they reopen a rape case against him but would continue to resist any bid to extradite him to the United States.

"We are absolutely happy to answer those queries if and when they come up," Jennifer Robinson told Sky News television about the rape claims.

"The key issue at the moment is U.S. extradition, which we have warned about for many years," she added.

Assange was arrested at the embassy last week after Ecuador gave him up, and is now also fighting a US extradition warrant relating to the release by WikiLeaks of a huge cache of official documents.