This is breaking news and the full story is not out yet. What we know, is that Julian Assange has been disconnected from the Internet at the Ecuadoran embassy in London and lost the right to receive visitors. These are the means by which he has contact with the outside world.
Supporters have been gathering outside the building, calling for these resrtictions to be reversed. People are being asked to sign the online petition.
It is no secret that the British, US and other government have been pressuring Ecuador for a long time. Assange was compelled to sign an agreement at the end of last year, in which he was forbidden to be critical of any foreign government, because it may cause a diplomatic incident with Ecuador.
Assange remains in the Embassy, although Sweden has not intention of going through with the charges that were questionable in the first place. The reason is that the US wants to get hold of him and impose a charge of treason, although he is not an American citizen.
Last year’s agreement is an effective gag on the founder of WikiLeaks, imposed by a small country subjected to bullying. This agreement was bound to be breached, if Assange’s role in WikiLeaks is to continue.
The trigger was pressure from the Spanish government, over comments made by Assange, over the Catalan political crisis, the arrest of Catalan leader Piugdemont in Germany, and the role the Spanish government in both.
Former Greek Minister of Finance Ioannis Varoufakis tweeted at statement of support, which is reproduced here in full.
It is with great concern that we heard that Julian Assange has lost access to the internet and the right to receive visitors at the Ecuadorian London Embassy. Only extraordinary pressure from the US and the Spanish governments can explain why Ecuador’s authorities should have taken such appalling steps in isolating Julian.
Only recently the government of Ecuador granted Julian citizenship and a diplomatic passport, in a bid to allow him safe passage from London. The UK government, under heavy pressure from the US government, refused to exploit this opportunity to end Julian’s detention – even after the Swedish authorities announced that no charges were, or would be, laid against him. Now, it seems that the Ecuadorian government that has been ‘leaned’ on mercilessly not only to stop attempting to provide Julian with a diplomatic route to safety but to drive him out of their London Embassy as well. In addition to US pressure, the Spanish government is also using its leverage over Ecuador to silence Julian’s criticisms of Madrid’s imprisonment of Catalan politicians and, in particular, of the arrest of Catalonia’s former premier in Germany.
Clearly, Ecuador’s government has been subjected to bullying over its decision to grant Julian asylum, support and, ultimately, diplomatic status. Naturally, Quito cannot admit that it is buckling under that pressure and it argues, in public, that Julian’s tweets over Catalonia are responsible for the decision to isolate him. Of course this is utterly unbelievable. Julian is now a citizen of Ecuador and as such enjoys the full protection of his freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Ecuador. Additionally, the only reason Julian is holed up in Ecuador’s London Embassy – and why Ecuador gave him asylum in the first place – is precisely because he empowered whistleblowers’ freedom of expression and defended our right to know the truth about practices of the US and other Western powers that the latter found ‘inconvenient’ once exposed to the light of day.
A world in which whistleblowers are hounded, small countries are forced to violate their cherished principles, and politicians are jailed for pursuing peacefully their political agenda is a deeply troubled world – a world at odds with the one the liberal establishment in Europe and the United States proclaimed as its artifact since the end of the Cold War.
With these thoughts in mind we call upon all citizens of good conscience to send a message to the Ecuadorian authorities asking that Julian’s access to the outside world be restored and another, more pertinent one, to the British authorities to end Julian’s detention.