The famous guest at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange, and Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, held a joint press conference on Thursday to note that two years have elapsed since the WikiLeaks founder sought diplomatic asylum.
In a video linkup from London and Quito, Assange revealed that he would not renounce Ecuador’s protection and would continue to stay at the embassy, which he entered to avoid facing allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden, and a possible extradition to the United States.
Patiño confirmed that Ecuador would maintain its protection. “We are going to protect Julian Assange as long as necessary and as long as he wants.”
Assange said WikiLeaks would remain operative despite the financial strangulation
Talks between Ecuador and Britain to extend a safe-conduct so Assange may leave the embassy and travel to the Andean country are stalled. Patiño said his government’s proposal to create a mixed committee of jurists to analyze the case a year ago has come to nothing.
“We have done what it was up to us to do; now we feel it is up to the United Nations agencies to establish a case,” said Patiño. “Let us hope that civil society and the world’s journalists will stop keeping quiet on the issue of defending a reporter’s freedom of expression.”
The Australian hacker revealed that his defense team included 30 people working in several countries, often without charging for their services. Assange stressed the emotional difficulties of being kept away from his children, and talked about the pressure on his family.
“If they can’t get me, perhaps they will assassinate them, or my children,” he said. “Some of my relatives, such as my mother, have had to change their names because of the threats.”
Assange also criticized the cost of his round-the-clock surveillance for the US and Britain. The latter has already spent around six million pounds on watching him, while the cost to US coffers is not known.
Patiño would not reveal any figures either, but said that Ecuador had simply reinforced security at the London embassy.
Regarding his website, Assange said it would remain up and running despite the financial strangulation to which it has been subjected. WikiLeaks’ accounts in France and the US have been blocked, with only one account in Iceland still operative. A year ago the economic damage stood at around $70 million, he said.
To prove that WikiLeaks is still alive and well, Assange revealed that the website would leak additional information regarding secret international trade negotiations, affecting 50 countries and 68.2 percent of global trade. These talks were taking place outside the formal limits of the World Trade Organization.