WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to lose extra security at Ecuadorean embassy

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Ecuador has cancelled extra security at the London embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up since 2012.

From now on, the diplomatic mission will have “normal security similar to the rest of Ecuador’s embassies in the world”, according to the country’s National Communications Secretariat.

Its statement did not say why the decision was made.

This week, it was revealed how the country’s previous administration had protected Assange through a $5m (£3.7m) spy operation monitoring his visitors, embassy personnel and even British police.

Assange sought refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations which authorities have since dropped.

Assange has been in the embassy in London for five and a half years WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to lose extra security at Ecuadorean embassy WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to lose extra security at Ecuadorean embassy skynews assange embassy 4224447
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Assange has been in the embassy in London since 2012

British police still want to arrest him for breaching bail conditions.

The 46-year-old fears he will be extradited to the US if he leaves the embassy in Knightsbridge. In 2010, WikiLeaks published secret US military documents and diplomatic cables detailing alleged war crimes and human rights violations.

In March, Ecuador’s government cut off Assange’s internet connection after he complained about the arrest of a Catalan separatist politician on social media, despite promising not to interfere in other countries’ affairs while seeking refuge in the embassy.

The Guardian reported this week how the embassy employed an international security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, initially to support the Australian-born computer programmer, but that changed when Assange allegedly hacked the communications system within the embassy – something WikiLeaks denies.

Julian Assange in Ecuadorian embassy in August 2012 WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to lose extra security at Ecuadorean embassy WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to lose extra security at Ecuadorean embassy 4a777010ef791fbb78842443631e410645865f6498938df20f5f60ec43ee27e6 3957926
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Assange fears he will be extradited to the US if he steps outside the building

The operation had the support of then Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa, the paper reported, adding that it has been wound down since new leader Lenin Moreno took power last year.

The security team recorded Assange’s daily activities and his interactions with embassy staff and visitors, including fellow hackers, activists and lawyers.

They stayed in a rented flat near the embassy at a cost of £2,800 a month, the paper said.

In December, Assange was made an Ecuadorean citizen – and the country unsuccessfully tried to register him as a diplomat with immunity as part of its efforts to have him leave the embassy without risk of being detained.



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