A Change.org petition calling on the Ecuadorean government to re-establish internet and phone connections for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has garnered over 30,000 signatures.
The petition, which was launched Wednesday, by the self-described pan-European democracy advocacy group DiEM25 and aims to collect at least 35,000 signatures.
“It is with great concern that we learned that Julian Assange has lost access to the internet and the right to receive visitors at the Ecuadorian London Embassy. Only extraordinary pressure from the US and the Spanish governments can explain why Ecuador’s authorities should have taken such appalling steps in isolating Julian," the petition's organizers said.
Assange was banned from accessing an internet connection and receiving visitors on March 28 after the Ecuadorean government said he had violated a 2017 agreement stating he would refrain from commenting on international political issues that could harm Ecuador's relations with foreign countries.
“The measure was adopted after Assange's failure to comply with the written commitment reached with the government in December 2017, in which he was obliged not to issue messages that implied interference in relation to other states,” said an official statement by Ecuador.
The Australian press has reported that electronic jammers were installed in the embassy to prevent Assange from making phone calls, he has also been banned from speaking to the media.
“Some of us fear that they don't want any witnesses to what they are about to do,” says an update from DiEM25.
Several voices across the world have expressed their support for Assange, including human rights and freedom of speech activists, demanding the Ecuadorean government to reconnect Julian Assange's access to the external world.
Julian Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy not because he is hiding from justice, but because he is hiding from injustice. The US-centralized empire which imprisons whistleblowers and tortured @xychelsea can't be trusted to treat him in a just way. #ReconnectJulian— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) March 28, 2018
WikiLeaks, the internet site edited by Assange and dedicated to spreading leaked information relevant to the lives of millions of people, also expressed its disagreement with the Ecuadorean authorities' actions.
Assange is a political prisoner explicitly because he speaks truth to power using the internet. Cutting off his internet access for doing the very thing for which he was granted asylum contradicts the reason he was granted that asylum in the first place. #ReconnectJulian— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) March 28, 2018
In recent days, Assange criticized Germany's decision to arrest Catalan pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont after receiving a request from the Spanish government and compared the move to the Nazi Gestapo's detention of democratically elected Catalonyan President Lluis Companys. Companys Assange explained in one of his tweets was later delivered to Spain's fascist regime and executed by a firing squad in 1940.
While many believe Assange was condemning the statements made by Pablo Casado, a spokesman for the ruling Popular Power right-wing nationalist party, on Puigdemont and the independence fight state officials have described the comments as political interference.
“Let history not be repeated because he may end up like Companys,” said Casado, reminding Puigdemont he could face a prison sentence of “15 years for insurrection and 25 for rebellion.”
It's bizarre for a country to grant someone political asylum, then condition it on being barred from communicating with the outside world. Makes a mockery of asylum. Once proudly defiant, Ecuador is now depicting itself as rather subservient to the west https://t.co/dbl5SIjfAl— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 28, 2018
Companys' only crime was proclaiming a provisional government for the Catalan Republic and arguing the Spanish state was becoming fascist and undemocratic.
According to WikiLeaks, the Ecuadorean government asked Assange to remove the tweet and decided to cut off his communications after he refused to do so.
The Change.org petition adds to the open letter signed by a group of intellectuals, artists, and activists demanding the Ecuadorean government to end Assange's isolation.
"If it was ever clear that the case of Julian Assange was never just a legal case, but a struggle for the protection of basic human rights, it is now," the letter reads.
The letter was signed by prominent intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Slavoj Zizek, as well as rock musician Brian Eno, filmmaker Oliver Stone, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, actress Pamela Anderson and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.