Ecuador seeks mediation over “unsustainable” Julian Assange situation

Wikileaks founder has been in London embassy of South American nation for nearly six years

Julian Assange has been an outspoken supporter of Catalan independence.
Julian Assange has been an outspoken supporter of Catalan independence.Frank Augstein (AP)

The government of Ecuador is considering international mediation in the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who took refuge in the London embassy of the South American country in 2012.

The situation facing the activist, who fears arrest in the United Kingdom and deportation to the United States over his leaking of military and diplomatic documents, is “not sustainable,” according to Ecuador.

“We have an enormous interest in finding a definitive solution to the Assange case, and for this to occur we are in permanent dialogue with the government of the United Kingdom,” said Ecuador’s foreign minister, María Fernanda Espinosa, speaking to foreign reporters in Quito.

Assange has been a vocal supporter of the independence cause in Catalonia

To this end, her department was “exploring various options to find a way out of this situation,” the minister said.

One of the options on the table involves a possible international mediation by a person of recognizable prestige or a government – a traditional method of solving diplomatic conflicts stemming from asylum cases.

“We are exploring alternatives but we believe that we really have to push the subject a little and seek solutions. No solution will be achieved without international cooperation and without the cooperation of the United Kingdom which has, in addition, shown interest in finding a way out,” the foreign minister added.

The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, spoke to EL PAÍS in December about the Assange case during his first official visit to Spain. Assange has spent several months interfering in the political crisis in Catalonia, backing the secessionist cause and taking aim at the central Spanish government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

“We have reminded Assange that he cannot interfere in Ecuadorian politics because his status as a political refugee doesn’t allow it. He does not have the right to interfere in Ecuadorian politics or the politics of the countries we are friends with, and he has pledged not to do this,” Moreno said at the time.

We are exploring alternatives but we believe that we really have to push the subject a little and seek solutions Ecuador Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa

Madrid had previously protested about Assange’s overt support for Catalan secessionist leaders. On November 9, Assange received a visit from Oriol Soler, a key ideologue of the independence movement. He has also given video conferences supporting Catalan independence.

In 2016, Ecuador cut off Assange’s internet connection to prevent him from getting involved in the US presidential elections that led to the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House.

English version by George Mills.

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