Since 2012, Julian Assange has been living in a small room in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. While the United Nations has stated that Assange must be allowed freedom to leave the embassy without facing persecution and furthermore mandated that Assange be compensated for his situation of arbitrary detention, his personal condition has only become worse since the UN made its historic ruling. Earlier this year, a private medical team found that Assange’s physical and mental health are severely at risk should he remain in the Embassy without access to a full medical facility. To make matters worse, since March of this year, Assange’s internet connection – his only lifeline with the outside world has been cut off.
Recent reports have indicated that Assange’s internet access has been “partly restored” although a leaked document from the Embassy demonstrates that far from tossing him a lifeline, Ecuador is merely heaping further abuse onto a man who has been subjugated to more strain and stress than most individuals will ever have to face.
According to the leaked document, Assange’s ability to receive visitors will be severely restricted while those still wishing to see the Wikileak’s founder will be subjected to humiliating intrusions into their privacy. The document further states that Assange will be punished should he speak about political matters online. This effectively means that Assange is now being gagged by the Ecuadorian government from exercising his right to free speech which is guaranteed to other Ecuadorian citizens. Finally, Ecuador will now force Assange to somehow pay for his own medical bills while Ecuador has also threatened to put Assange’s pet cat into an animal shelter if Assange, a man with severe health problems is not able to take care of the animal according to the seemingly arbitrary standards that Ecuador has set out.
While for Assange this is a further attempt to de-humanise a man whose only “crime” was to publish facts relating to war criminality and severe corruption among multiple governments, when it comes to bearing the supreme shame for these acts of aggression against Assange, such guilt must be assigned to Ecuador’s current government.
In 2012, when Assange was first welcomed to the Embassy, he was welcomed by progressive Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. Correa continues to speak out for Assange’s human rights, but the former President has now been silenced in his own home. Correa now lives in exile in Europe as his handpicked successor has decided to stab him in the back by attempting to prosecute him on self-evidently politicised corruption charges.Thus, Assange and the former Ecuadorian President who helped extend a lifeline to the besieged publisher and anti-war activist is now himself forced to live in exile, albeit under much different conditions than Assange.
When current Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno won his election in 2017, he was officially endorsed by Correa. Since then, Moreno has not only turned on his former colleague but he has debased the dignity of Ecuador before the world by imposing what amounts to further torturous conditions on Julian Assange on top of that which he was already subjected to.
Under President Correa, Ecuador was a shining example of ethical geopolitical behaviour that held fast in the face of threats from vastly wealthier and more powerful regimes. Under Moreno, Ecuador is once again becoming a nation on its knees before these powerful nations.
The world is rightly concerned with the mysterious disappearance and likely murder of Saudi born journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a man many believe was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Yet when it comes to those having a notoriously difficult time in a consular facility due to their penchant for speaking out against various regimes, Julian Assange’s protracted suffering is no less serious and no less tragic.
Ecuador was supposed to be the one nation that genuinely cared about Assange and under President Correa, Ecuador did indeed demonstrate its overt compassion towards Julian Assange. Now though, Ecuador’s fall from grace amounts to kicking a very weak man when he is down. At least Britain and America have been showing their true colours to Assange the entire time. The fact that Ecuador has now effectively joined in with Assange’s persecutors is the most unkindest cut of all.