A day after she was elected president of the UN General Assembly, the Ecuadorian foreign minister said Julian Assange would remain incommunicado in Ecuador’s London embassy, as James Cogan explains.
By James Cogan
On Monday Ecuadorian Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa was elected to a one-year term as president of the United Nations General Assembly. On Tuesday she declared that her government would continue blocking WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from all communications and deny him any personal visitors. On Wednesday it became 10 weeks since Ecuador’s government deprived Assange of his rights, which it is obliged to honor after granting him political asylum in its London embassy in 2012.
The General Assembly vote in support of Espinosa was a substantial: 128 votes for 62 votes for the other nominee, Honduras’s UN ambassador, Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake. There were two abstentions. Washington was believed to favor Honduras because its right-wing government supported the provocative relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. After the vote, Espinosa again hinted that Ecuador is working to force Assange out of the embassy into the clutches of waiting police and the prospect of extradition to the United States on charges of espionage. She stated she was in discussion with both British authorities and Assange’s lawyers. “I think all parties are interested in finding an outlet, a solution, to this complex situation,” she declared.
Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno last year slandered Assange as a “hacker” and described the granting of political asylum to him by the previous president as an “inherited problem.”
Washington is demanding Assange’s head. Then CIA director Mike Pompeo, now U.S. secretary of state, asserted last year that WikiLeaks was a “non-state hostile intelligence agency,” due to its publication of documents exposing the operations of U.S. intelligence.
It appears Assange is being used as a bargaining chip in sordid negotiations between the U.S. and Ecuador. On June 4, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met Moreno. Amid the stepped-up persecution of Assange, Pence issued a statement lauding their discussion on “opportunities to reinvigorate the bilateral relationship” between the two countries.