Julian Assange has accused his Ecuadorean hosts of spying and feeding information to US authorities, and slammed attempts to block his journalistic work as a more subtle way of silencing than the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Suggesting there were “facts of espionage” inside the embassy, the WikiLeaks co-founder expressed concern during a hearing in Quito on Wednesday that Ecuadorean intelligence is not only spying on him, but sharing the data it has harvested with the FBI. Ecuadorean intelligence clearly spent a sizable amount of money equipping the embassy for surveillance, Assange added.
He accused Ecuadorean authorities of “comments of a threatening nature” relating to his journalistic work and compared attempts to silence him to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was tortured and cut up in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul in October, but “more subtle.” The comparison elicited a harsh reaction from Ecuadorean Prosecutor General Inigo Salvador, who accused Assange of biting the hand that feeds him.
Assange told the Ecuadorean court that the living conditions in the embassy were so detrimental to his health that they may put him in the hospital – and suggested that may be the point, because once he leaves the building, he’s fair game for UK and US authorities.
US prosecutors accidentally revealed the existence of a sealed indictment against the whistleblower last month and have since stonewalled reporters’ inquiries into what the indictment might contain.
While Assange was being held incommunicado earlier this year, his suspicions about his hosts’ spying were confirmed in a May report by the Guardian that revealed Ecuador spent about $ 5 million on surveilling the WikiLeaks founder and his visitors in the London embassy from 2012 until 2017. However, that paper’s recent publication of blatantly “fake news” involving Assange casts its earlier coverage into doubt as well.
Assange was in court appealing a strict set of rules handed down in October governing his conduct, which he has called a violation of human rights. He submitted 15 “facts of evidence” along with letters from individuals and groups barred from visiting him at the embassy. An earlier attempt to sue his hosts over the restrictive measures was ultimately dismissed by a judge last month, while Assange rejected Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno’s offer to leave the embassy in exchange for a guarantee he would not be executed.
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