Ecuador tries to blame Julian Assange for recent political turmoil

Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno blamed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday for recent media attention on allegations of his corruption and a leak of his private data to social media. The president also accused Assange of having “repeatedly violated” the terms of his asylum.

Moreno was speaking to the Ecuadorian Radio Broadcasters’ Association when he claimed that WikiLeaks had intercepted private messages and leaked “photos of my bedroom, what I eat, and how my wife and daughters and friends dance” to social media.

Despite his claims, the president provided no proof at all to support it, and reiterated the conditions of Assange’s asylum.

“Assange cannot lie or, much less, hack into private accounts or private phones,” Moreno said. Nor could he “intervene in the politics of countries, or worse friendly countries.”

“We should ensure Mr Assange’s life is not at risk but he’s violated the agreement we have with him so many times,” he continued.

Assange has resided in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since fleeing there in 2012 to avoid extradition to the United States where he has been the subject of a federal investigation since 2010, when WikiLeaks published thousands of military and diplomatic cables.

There is more to this story than the fraying and frustrated relationship between Assange and Ecuador, however, with Moreno himself accused of trying to divert attention from a threatening domestic scandal.

In February, a dossier of communications and internal company documents from INA Investment Corp were published that implicate Moreno and his wider family in alleged offshore dealings and money laundering activities.

While a congressional investigation into Moreno gets underway in Ecuador, his government cabinet has claimed in multiple media appearances and in a submission to the United Nations that WikiLeaks was responsible for publishing the INA Papers—as they’ve come to be known.

Not everyone is buying it, though.

In a statement issued on Monday former Consul of Ecuador Fidel Navarez pointed out that the INA Papers were not published or leaked by WikiLeaks at all and that claiming so was “a monumental lie.” He then blasted Moreno’s government officials for inventing a narrative blaming Assange, calling it “a false pretext to end the asylum and protection of Julian Assange.”

Just how Ecuador’s domestic turmoil will pan out remains to be seen, but it appears that in his scramble for credibility Moreno might well take the WikiLeaks founder down with him.

David Gilmour

David Gilmour

David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology.