Human rights agency rejects Assange complaint against Ecuador

World

WASHINGTON/QUITO (Reuters) – An international human rights organization has turned down a request by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that Ecuador, which has sheltered him for more than six years at its embassy in London, ease the conditions it has imposed on his residence there.

FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

A spokeswoman for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is linked to the Organization of American States, said the group rejected Assange’s complaint.

Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson had no immediate comment. 

Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation. That probe was later dropped, but Assange fears he could be extradited to face charges in the United States, where federal prosecutors are investigating WikiLeaks.

He says Ecuador is seeking to end his asylum and has put pressure on him to leave by requiring him to pay for his medical bills and phone calls, as well as clean up after his pet cat.

He had sought the support of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in his case against Ecuador. While the commission did not back Assange, it said it reminded Ecuador of international law that no state should deport, return or extradite someone to another country where that person might face human rights abuses.

A friend who regularly visits Assange says he privately complains that Ecuador’s government recently replaced Embassy diplomats sympathetic to Assange with officials who are much less friendly.

Last year, U.S. federal prosecutors in the state of Virginia mistakenly made public a document saying that Assange had been secretly indicted. Officials have since declined to confirm or deny he has been charged.

U.S. federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia, have maintained a long-running grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks. One source said it includes a probe into leaks of Central Intelligence Agency documents to the WikiLeaks website.

Earlier this month, a federal judge in Alexandria ordered former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to be jailed for contempt after she refused to testify about WikiLeaks before the grand jury.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Alexandra Valencia in Quito; Editing by Leslie Adler

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