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News > Ecuador

Latin American Social Leaders, Ex-presidents Decry Assange's Arrest, Possible Extradition

  • A woman participates in a protest in support of Julian Assange and against the government of Lenin Moreno in Quito, Ecuador on Tuesday.

    A woman participates in a protest in support of Julian Assange and against the government of Lenin Moreno in Quito, Ecuador on Tuesday. | Photo: EFE

Published 17 April 2019

"This is... an absurd maneuver (by Ecuadorean President Moreno) to kneel before the British Crown and... Donald Trump," the joint statement reads.

A group of Latin American social leaders headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel signed a statement of international solidarity with Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks who was arrested last Thursday from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, United Kingdom.

Moreno: Assange is an 'Informational Terrorist,' Russian Agent

Nora Cortiñas of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, as well as former presidents from around the region including Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Mel Zelaya of Honduras, former Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, former Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba and the Cuban legislator Mariela Castro Espin are among those who have signed the joint statement.

Argentine social leaders Jorge Rivas, Oscar Laborde, Carlos Aznarez, Jorge Kot, Francisco Cafiero and the writer Elsa Osorio among others also signed the statement.

"Julian Assange ... has revealed important and necessary information for humanity all about the atrocities and brutalities committed by the U.S. Empire around the world," the statement reads.

"We repudiate the … treacherous attitude of the nefarious president of Ecuador Lenin Moreno," the statement adds. "This is just an absurd maneuver to kneel before the British Crown and the president of the United States, Donald Trump."

The letter also demanded Assange not be extradited to the United States, where the WikiLeaks founder has been accused of an alleged computer hacking crime by a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia.

"The struggle against the Empire, injustice and world equality makes us brothers and sisters. We demand the immediate freedom and respect for human rights (of Assange),” the letter concluded.

The Wikileaks editor and cyber activist took refuge in the embassy of Ecuador in London in 2012 after the British Supreme Court ruled against him and ordered his arrest and subsequent transfer to Sweden, where a prosecutor had issued an international arrest warrant for considering Assange suspected of having committed a sexual crime.

The Swedish prosecutor eventually shelved the investigation after Assange took refuge in the embassy. Assange was arrested when he was expelled from the embassy last Thursday for having violated his U.K. parole, meaning the Swedish legal case could reopen as well.

Just hours after Assange’s arrest, a software developer and advocate of digital rights Ola Bini was arrested by Ecuadorean authorities in the capital, Quito, for allegedly attempting to destabilize the government by "collaborating" with Assange.

Bini was placed in preventative detention by Ecuador’s Criminal Unit judge for the crime of cyber-attacking computer systems. The judge also ordered a 90-day fiscal investigation of Bini's accounts which have also been frozen.

"Nothing in this story connects Ola Bini with any crime," said David Kaye, United Nations special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

The judge dismissed allegations of human rights violations against Bini claimed by his lawyer, Carlos Soria who said that Bini was arrested without his rights explained to him in his native language. The Swede was also unable to contact his lawyer after he was taken into custody on April 11 for more than thirty hours. Ecuadorean law establishes that initial detentions cannot exceed twenty-four hours.

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