QUITO – Spanish former Judge Baltasar Garzon presented on Friday a legal challenge to the new conditions Ecuador has imposed on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the seventh year of his stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Garzon told a press conference in Quito that Assange’s attorneys filed the challenge “based on the violation of his rights regarding telecommunications restrictions and the unilateral implementation of the so-called ‘Special protocol for visits, communications and medical attention.’”
The protocol was presented to the Australian to outline the conditions of his stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been holed up since June 2012.
The motion requests a court hearing on the protocol in which Assange can participate by video-link.
In a prepared statement, Garzon and Carlos Poveda, another member of Assange’s legal team, said that “the current situation of the asylee has worsened due to his prolonged asylum.”
The protocol, of which an unconfirmed copy has circulated online, contemplates allowing Assange to once again have an Internet connection, after he was barred from having one in March for publishing his political opinions on the US election, the Catalan independence crisis and other issues, for which the administration of Lenin Moreno received criticisms from several foreign governments.
The protocol also establishes cleaning rules regarding his pet cat, medical attention conventions, the requirement that he pay for his expenses, and visiting restrictions.
According to the document, if Assange breaks the protocol’s rules, he risks having his asylum condition annulled.
The Assange case, which has been characterized by Moreno as “a stone in his shoe,” has led to negotiations with the United Kingdom that have lasted more than a year, but the two sides have not agreed on the conditions to allow Assange to exit the embassy.
Assange has said he will remain at the Ecuadorian Embassy due to fears the UK will hand him over to the United States for prosecution based on WikiLeaks’ publication of classified documents.
The Australian citizen sought refuge at the Ecuadorian mission after losing a long battle in the British courts to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors had been seeking to question him about rape and sexual molestation allegations dating back to 2010.
Though Sweden dropped the rape investigation last year, Assange remains unable to leave the embassy without being arrested by UK authorities for allegedly breaching his bail conditions in 2012.
Last December, Ecuador’s then-foreign minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, granted Assange Ecuadorian citizenship and a diplomatic position to solve the issue, but the UK did not allow him to exit the embassy without arresting him.