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  1. ITV Report

Julian Assange’s communications partly restored by Ecuadorian government

He has been living inside Ecuador’s embassy in London for over six years (Dominic Lipinski/PA) Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

The Ecuadorian government has decided to partly restore communications for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

They were cut in March, denying him access to the internet or phones and limiting visitors to members of his legal team.

He has been living inside Ecuador’s embassy in London for over six years.

The Ecuadorian government said in March it had acted because Mr Assange had breached “a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages that might interfere with other states”.

Wikileaks said in a statement: “Ecuador has told WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange that it will remove the isolation regime imposed on him following meetings between two senior UN officials and Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno on Friday.”

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Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, added: “It is positive that through UN intervention Ecuador has partly ended the isolation of Mr Assange although it is of grave concern that his freedom to express his opinions is still limited.

“The UN has already declared Mr Assange a victim of arbitrary detention. This unacceptable situation must end.

“The UK government must abide by the UN’s ruling and guarantee that he can leave the Ecuadorian embassy without the threat of extradition to the United States.”

Mr Assange has been granted political asylum by Ecuador but believes he will be arrested if he leaves the embassy and extradited to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks said Mr Assange has not entered into any form of agreement with Ecuador to restrict his speech or other rights.

His lawyers are considering his legal options and will make a statement in due course.

The WikiLeaks statement said the meetings were held in Ecuador between the president and the UN high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi and UN special rapporteur for freedom of expression David Kaye.

It said: “Concern over Mr Assange’s situation has also been raised by other UN bodies, as well as Human Rights Watch (who was refused access to him), Amnesty International, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, Ecuador’s Permanent Human Rights Commission, and public protests

“Mr Assange was informed of Ecuador’s decision hours after Mr Grandi and Mr Kaye met with President Moreno.”

President Moreno ordered Mr Assange’s “isolation” on March 28 in retaliation for giving “opinions on the politics of friendly nations like Spain or the United States”.

The statement continued: “Mr Assange had critically reported on the Trump administration’s involvement in Yemen and Spanish police brutality. High level representations were made by the Trump administration and the Spanish government over Mr Assange, who was given political refugee status by Ecuador in 2012 over US attempts to prosecute him.

“The Trump administrations stepped up efforts to prosecute Mr Assange after WikiLeaks published the largest leak in the history of the CIA last year.

“The US has announced that it now considers Ecuador a ‘strategic ally’ and helped it secure a billion dollars in previously withheld loans.

“For almost seven months, Ecuador has kept Mr Assange in a regime that has been likened to solitary confinement by Human Rights Watch. Ecuador has prevented Mr Assange from receiving visitors other than his lawyers. It installed three sets of signal jammers in the embassy, to prevent Mr Assange from communicating using mobile phones or internet.

“The extrajudicial seven-month isolation of Mr Assange has interfered with his fundamental rights and the rights of his family. It has also prevented Mr Assange from working and giving public talks.

“Ecuador has also prevented all journalists from speaking to him during this time. Ecuador’s President until last year, Rafael Correa, has denounced Mr Assange’s treatment as ‘torture’ stating ‘the government is basically attacking Julian’s mental health’.

“Ecuador has informed Mr Assange that the government intends to continue Moreno’s policy of restricting him from expressing his opinions under threat of expulsion.”