Moreno: Assange Can Remain At Embassy, So Long As He Doesn’t Practice Journalism

In 1999 I took a backpack and my life savings to South America, intending to spend six months traversing as much of the continent as I could possibly fit in. I landed in Ecuador and my plans changed almost immediately. I fell in love with the country and its people and ended up spending over half my time there.

I arrived a few days after the banks had collapsed in a grim neoliberal foreshadowing as to what was going to happen in the States a decade later. Bank accounts were frozen as the government put salvaging the banks above feeding the people. There was anger and rioting, tear gas and rubber bullets, and a brass band. Always, there was a brass band. Sometimes shirtless, often shoeless, with a few dinged-up instruments creating a wild cacophony of joy to riot to. A tiny country with the equator running through three distinct topographies -- the coast, the alps and the jungle -- its claim to being "el mitad del mundo" rings true. It feels like you are living in the heart of the world. It is life, concentrated. And its people seem more real and more alive than any I have encountered in my many travels.

Which is why I was not surprised when this plucky nation knowingly took on the wrath of the western empire in granting Julian Assange political asylum in 2012. While my own sycophantic country Australia pathetically ignored the plight of its own citizen, Ecuador defiantly strode forward, locked eyes with the US-centralized power establishment, and did what no one else was willing to.

Granting political asylum to a journalist who is being persecuted for speaking truth to power was the right thing to do, and for a few fine years Ecuador showed the world its soul with this brave act. You can understand my dismay, then, to see President Lenín Moreno flushing it all down the toilet by now telling that same journalist that he will no longer receive political asylum if he ever again speaks truth to power.

In an interview with German publication Deutsche Welle, Ecuador's president confirmed reports that revoking Assange's political asylum is being actively considered and remains an option on the table, saying that his administration will "take a decision" if the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief refuses to comply with instructions to cease voicing his political opinions online. Saying that Assange's public geopolitical analysis has “surpassed the limits of freedom of expression,” Moreno's conditions on Assange's continued asylum amount to a demand that Assange cease to practice the journalism he was granted political asylum for in the first place.

"Let’s not forget the conditions of his asylum prevent him from speaking about politics or intervening in the politics of other countries. That’s why we cut his communication,” Moreno said.

WikiLeaks has publicly and repeatedly denied that Assange ever made any agreement to refrain from political commentary as a condition of his asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and indeed we have never heard any talk about any such agreement until after Moreno took office last year. Assange has now been in effective isolation without any access to visitors, phone calls or internet for two months, reportedly due to a tweet Assange made criticizing the Spanish government's oppressive response to the Catalan independence movement.

Ecuador's previous president, Rafael Correa, has denounced the Moreno administration's isolation of Assange as a form of torture.

So it appears that Assange is being presented with three options:

  1. Remain in isolation indefinitely and suffer the gradual decline of body and mind which necessarily comes with it.
  2. Come out of isolation on the condition that he cease voicing his political opinions or doing anything which could be perceived as interfering in the affairs of another nation, which would be to cease practicing journalism, and, in a sense, cease being Julian Assange.
  3. Be forced out of the embassy.
All three options that Assange is being offered result in his being silenced. The police patrolling the embassy have standing orders to arrest him as soon as he sets foot outside regardless of his diplomatic status, the British government has for six years refused to say whether it has received a US extradition request for Assange, and the Trump administration has made no secret about its agenda to arrest Assange and crush WikiLeaks. He either rots in isolation, remains politically silent and inactive, or goes to prison under the same government which tortured Chelsea Manning.

The western empire's agenda to silence a dissident journalist, which President Moreno is now fully facilitating, proves beyond a doubt that the world needs the truth-spreading work of WikiLeaks more than ever, and it proves that Ecuador was right to shelter him from persecution in the first place. Walking back on that to fall into imperial sycophancy after all these years is shameful.

There are precious few forces in this world that have both the will to do great good and the power to enforce it. Ecuador is one of them. Here's hoping it turns around and shows the world that brave, indomitable spirit I fell in love with in 1999.

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It's breaking my heart to think of him shut away like that, and to think of the countless people around the world who are switched off after the smear campaign against him worked. Which isn't to say that he likely doesn't have some personality deficits, but news flash - we're all a little fucked up now. And we know that whole rape situation was a concoction.

This whole scenario is going to be in 50 years one of those head-scratching "how could everyone have been so stupid as to just stand by and let this happen?" situations.

It breaks my heart to think of him shut away in there, teeth aching.

I wonder how much interference in Ecuador's elections went on in order to get the type of flaccid president who would bow to the US/UK bidding.

This is one of the most revealing situations of our time. Because the emails he published contained secrets of their filthy activity he can never speak again? If the secrets had been about Trump they would be loving Assange. We can't let this take place - he has to be helped by the Trump administration - I don't understand why they haven't spoken up for him already. Momz

Because it would just be conjuncture towards Trump of having some sort of Russian connection between Assange, himself and Russia.

The oligarchy's desire for Assange's destruction is in direct proportion to their fear of transparency and openness. Those with the most to hide hate him the most. Those who fear Julian Assange fear the people.

He has taken on properties associated with the sacred. The mass media, for the most part, refuse to say his name or acknowledge his existence. They are reluctant to look at him. Yet the great power holders seem acutely aware of his existence. It's like the air around him is thin. We all know this stasis cannot last. We're waiting.

Among those of us who are ordinary enough to discuss his situation openly, the voices saying they cannot understand "why doesn't he just walk outside and leave" are either very ignorant or evil.

It's hard to imagine how he will escape, but if I possessed a fortune, I'd give it to anyone who could get him out of there and take him into a safe, secure, livable situation. I picture helicopters defending helicopters filling the air above his quarters and a getaway jet awaiting, protected by every kind of armament there is.

If he falls into the clutches of the empire, then at that moment I will welcome its destruction.

As always, thank you Caitlin. I hope the Ecuador you knew and loved is still viable and still cares.

"Trump says he is not involved in that decision-making process, but would support Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he charged Assange with a crime."

"He added: “So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.”

Here's quotes from both your links to the Trump administration, Trump used the word "crime", meaning they have to find evidence that a crime was committed. All other quotes are by "unnamed" sources, same sources that want to disparage the current administration.

Same with the quote from Sessions. He spoke in generalities of all leaking, and again in cases where evidence of a crime has been committed.

I think what is happening here is that the very same media that you complain doesn't allow for the truth is also part of the propaganda machine being used to help Assange self contain himself. Assange is at this point in place they can't put him, locked and sealed. That's why the administration is saying if evidence of a crime has been committed then yes, they aren't saying they found evidence of a crime, media is just interrupting it that way to scare Assange into staying self contained.

"Surpassed the limits of freedom of expression"...nice and vague as usual, with no context.

It sounds like the people offering these options are quite afraid of Assange's journalism, as they should be.