Stop the persecution of Julian Assange and protect his right to asylum
Monday, December 3, 2018

Julian Assange, editor of Wikileaks, faces the danger of being handed over to the US.

Since 2012 Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the country that granted him the right to asylum.  For a decade now, Assange has been the object of legal persecution and media harassment, largely under fabricated pretexts. Deep down, it is clear that Wikileaks is not forgiven for having divulged confidential information of great public relevance.

The revelation, in mid-November, that the US has made an accusation against the journalist, the content of which would only be made public when he is arrested, ratifies the fears of Assange and his legal team of an extradition to the US, where he could run the risk of the death penalty, which is the reason why he was granted asylum.  The United Kingdom has confirmed that, if he leaves the Embassy, he will be arrested for violating probation six years ago.

The government of Ecuador, for its part, held Julian Assange incommunicado six months ago, arguing that his opinion on international political issues violates his condition as an asylum seeker. More recently, the embassy imposed new restrictions on the conditions of stay in the embassy through a "protocol," which conditions visits and prohibits him from carrying out journalist activities and expressing his opinions, under the threat of losing his asylum.  Everything indicates that there is an intention to pressure the journalist to turn himself in.

All this is happening in the context of Lenin Moreno's government's rapprochement with the US. According to various sources, the granting of loans and the negotiation of a trade agreement between the United States and Ecuador would have as a condition the surrender of the journalist Assange to the British authorities.

The harassment of Julian Assange constitutes an eminent case of political persecution and censorship of free investigative journalism.  It is unacceptable that the governments of the United States and Great Britain, which proclaim the defense of press freedom and transparency, maintain this persecution.

Ecuador, for its part, has been courageous in granting him asylum during these years, in difficult conditions.  We urge the government to respect and guarantee the inalienable Right of Asylum and all of Mr. Assange's human rights and not to give in to the pressures to hand him over to the British authorities.

We call on journalists, intellectuals, social organisations, international and human rights bodies to speak out emphatically in defence of Julian Assange and in rejection of any attempt to hand him over to the British or American authorities.

No more political persecution of Julian Assange! The Right of Asylum must be maintained without restriction.  To protect Assange is to protect the freedom of the press and of expression.

Foro de Comunicación para la Integración de NuestrAmérica (FCINA)