Thursday, April 11, 2019 8:00 pm
Quito has suspended the Ecuadorian nationality it had granted to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said on Thursday.
His nationality was suspended by the ministry on Wednesday “due to several irregularities found in its processing,’’ Valencia said at a news conference.
The founder of the whistleblower website was arrested over U.S. conspiracy charges on Thursday after Ecuador terminated his asylum at its embassy in London, where he had taken refuge for seven years.
Assange, an Australian citizen, moved into the embassy in 2012 after breaching bail in relation to sexual assault allegations he faced in Sweden.
President Lenin Moreno said Ecuador revoked Assange’s asylum because he repeatedly violated international conventions and WikiLeaks had threatened Quito.
Ecuador granted Assange nationality in December 2017.
Similarly, the health condition of Assange was one of the reasons the president of Ecuador decided to deny him asylum, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said on Thursday.
Assange was arrested in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London earlier in the day.
The UK police confirmed that the arrest had been made “on behalf of the U.S. authorities.’’ Ecuador had withdrawn asylum it had earlier granted to Assange.
“Seven years in a restricted area had an impact on Assange. We received information from various sources, which gave us a reason for concern, and this was taken into account when deciding to refuse asylum.
“We didn’t want it to damage his health even more,’’ the minister told reporters.
Assange gained fame after WikiLeaks published a large number of leaked files, including some referring to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and conditions in the Guantanamo detention camp.
Since 2012, Assange had been residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced a probe over allegations of sexual offences.
Assange denied those allegations and called them politically motivated.
While the Swedish police dropped the investigation in 2017, Assange was still wary of being extradited to the U.S. (dpa/NAN)