Ecuador revokes WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s citizenship

QUITO: A court has revoked the Ecuadorian citizenship of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently imprisoned in the United Kingdom.

Ecuador’s justice system has formally notified the Australian that his naturalisation had been nullified after authorities said the supporting letter had multiple inconsistencies, different signatures, the possible alteration of documents and unpaid fees, among other issues.

Assange’s lawyer Carlos Poveda a news agency the decision was made without due process and Assange was not allowed to appear in the case. “On the date [Assange] was cited, he was deprived of his liberty and with a health crisis inside the deprivation of liberty centre where he was being held,” Poveda said, adding he would file an appeal.

On Monday, the Pichincha court for contentious administrative matters revoked this decision. Ecuador’s foreign ministry said the court had “acted independently and followed due process in a case that took place during the previous government and that was raised by the same previous government”.

Assange remains imprisoned in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison as the United States seeks his extradition. A UK court ruled in January that Assange should not be extradited to the US, saying the move would be “oppressive”.

He has been accused of conspiring with former US military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak a trove of classified material in 2010. His supporters and press freedom groups view him as an investigative reporter who has brought war crimes to light.

The secret documents relating to the military engagement of Allied forces in Afghanistan were released on WikiLeaks while Assange also collaborated with journalists at prominent news outlets. A total of 18 charges relating to “Assange’s alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States” have been lodged by Washington.

US officials argue Assange put the lives of US informants at risk. If found guilty, Assange could be jailed in the US for 175 years. Assange fled to Ecuador’s embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition. He was granted asylum there and later gained citizenship.

At the time, Ecuador’s government planned to grant Assange diplomatic status, which would allow him to safely leave the embassy. However, tensions later flared between Quito and Assange. The Ecuadorian government revoked his asylum status in 2019 and Assange was subsequently jailed by British police for violating bail conditions.

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