The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by British police on Thursday at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after Ecuador revoked his asylum.
The revocation of asylum and the arrest marked the end of a rocky seven-year relationship between the WikiLeaks founder and his host government, and has led to allegations of corruption and retaliation at the highest level of Ecuador’s government.
In a video, Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno cited Assange’s mistreatment of embassy staff and facilities as well as WikiLeaks’ continued political activity as the primary drivers for ending the asylum.
Assange’s arrest also came a day after he claimed that a sophisticated spying operation had targeted him, leading to extortion demands, and weeks after WikiLeaks was accused of releasing private documents, including personal photos and emails, that implicated Moreno in a corruption scandal.
“The patience of Ecuador has reached its limit,” Moreno said in the video.
Moreno cited WikiLeaks’ release of documents belonging to the Vatican in January as evidence that Assange “violated the norm of not intervening in the internal affairs of other states,” adding that the document dump and other activities “confirmed the world’s suspicion that Mr. Assange is still linked to WikiLeaks.”
Moreno also accused Assange of mistreating the embassy and its staff, saying he “installed electronic and distortion equipment,” “blocked the security cameras of the Ecuadorian Mission in London,” “confronted and mistreated guards,” and “accessed the security files of our embassy without permission.”
The small South American country has for years weathered the issues Moreno cited that led to the end of Assange’s asylum. Ecuador previously cut Assange’s internet access because of his continued political activities, and the country’s government had continually raised concerns about his links to WikiLeaks.
Moreno said that WikiLeaks’ claim that Assange had been spied on in Ecuador’s custody amounted to threatening the government and that it wore out his patience on the “inherited” problem of Assange’s stay; the WikiLeaks founder started his stay in the embassy during Moreno’s predecessor’s term.
“Two days ago, WikiLeaks, Mr. Assange’s allied organization, threatened the government of Ecuador,” the president said.
The Ecuadorian government has filed complaints against the group for promoting leaks of the president’s private documents.
Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s president from 2007 to 2017 who accepted Assange’s asylum request, alleged in a tweet after the arrest that the asylum was dropped due to the leak of Moreno’s information.
“Julian Assange was expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy for exposing Pres. Lenin Moreno’s corruption in the #INAPapers,” Correa tweeted, referencing the name for the leaks, the INA Papers.
Notably, Moreno served as Correa’s vice president.
The combined issues of Assange’s allegations of spying and the document dump said to implicate Moreno look like the straws that broke the camel’s back and ended a seven-year liability for the small country.
Assange was arrested on Thursday on an extradition request by the US. The Department of Justice has charged him founder with conspiracy to hack a government computer.
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