Wikileaks founder Julian Assange may have been expelled from the Ecuador embassy for allegedly leaking an embarrassing photo of the Ecuadorian President lounging on a bed dining on lobster in a hotel room.
The photo, which is one of the more embarrassing snaps, is part of 200 private e-mails, texts, and documents published on an anonymous website inapapers.org. The leak apparently infuriated Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno, who accused Assange’s Wikileaks of being behind the publication. The leaked files also include photos of Moreno’s family on lavish holidays in Europe, reported The New York Post.
It's part of a trove of damaging documents and photos that the Ecuadorian president accused WikiLeaks of leaking.
Moreno said in a radio interview that, “Assange cannot lie or, much less, hack into private accounts or private phones,” reported the news website.
Assange, 47, was arrested by British police, handcuffed, and carried out of the Ecuadorian Embassy on April 11 after his asylum was revoked. His arrest stems from a breach of his bail in 2012 for failing to surrender to a UK Court after a sexual assault investigation in Sweden was dropped. Following his arrests, the United States sought his extradition and unsealed a March 2018 indictment (PDF) that alleged Assange had conspired with former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, to breach the Army’s computer system in 2010.
Manning provided Assange with nearly 750,000 classified or sensitive military and diplomatic documents, which Assange then published on Wikileaks. Assange was also accused of encouraging Manning to steal more documents and agreeing to help Manning crack a password that would give Manning access to the Army computer system under a different username.
Manning was convicted by court-martial in 2013 of espionage and other offenses. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison but her final 28 years was commuted by former President Barack Obama.
She was taken into custody on March 8 for refusing to testify to a grand jury that is investigating Wikileaks.
** Chelsea was taken into custody today for resisting a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia
Chelsea provided the following statement: pic.twitter.com/tWjEOFyhYn
— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) March 8, 2019
Wikileaks has denied in a statement on their website for having a role in the leaks and accused the Ecuadorian government of creating a story as a pretext to end Assange’s asylum.
“WikiLeaks learned from two high-level sources within the Ecuadorian state ‘that Julian Assange will be expelled within “hours to days” using the #INAPapers offshore scandal as a pretext–and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest,'” the organization claimed on April 5.
Along with the alleged leak, Assange’s apparent squalid lifestyle had caused the deterioration of his relationship with Ecuadorian officials, reported the Post. Ecuador’s Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo alleged that Assange has been harassing his caretakers, as well as smeared his own excrement on the walls at the embassy, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Lawyer Jennifer Robinson, who is representing Assange, told Sky News that the allegations are “pretty outrageous” and are used to justify the arrests.
Ecuador has claimed Assange had to be reminded to flush the toilet, left dirty underwear in the lavatory, did not clean dishes and left the cooker on
“Ecuador has made these allegations to justify the unlawful and extraordinary act of letting police come inside an embassy,” Robinson said.
Moreover, Moreno said Assange had repeatedly breached an agreement with Ecuador that did not allow him to comment on political situations in other countries, reported the Post.
Swedish prosecutors said on April 11 they had received a formal request to reopen the sexual assault investigation from the legal counsel representing the alleged victim. The request was assigned to Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson, who said prosecutors would look into the matter and determine how to proceed.
Assange is expected to appear in court via video link in his next court appearance on May 2.
The Epoch Times Reporter Petr Svab and Reuters contributed to this report.