Ecuador Acted In Bad Faith By Stripping Assange Of Citizenship - Former Consul

LONDON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 30th July, 2021) Former Ecuadorian consul in the UK Fidel Narvaez told Sputnik on Thursday that the South American country's government and its judicial system acted in "bad faith" by stripping WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of his Ecuadorian citizenship.

"They have decided, in a very crude manner, to revoke his citizenship in an attempt to justify the crime they committed on April 11, 2019, and at the same time, submit themselves to the United States," Narvaez said.

Assange received Ecuadorian citizenship in 2017 while he was an asylee at the country's embassy in London. In April 2019, Assange's citizenship was suspended based on the National Comptroller's Office report on irregularities in the procedure of granting it, and the UK Police was allowed into the embassy to arrest him.

On Monday, Ecuador's justice system formally notified the WikiLeaks founder of the nullity of his naturalization in a letter that came in response to a claim filed by the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry.

"The citizenship was granted as a humanitarian gesture to protect him, in line with the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, so his naturalization cannot be dealt with in a conventional way but under international law," the former diplomat, who was Assange's main liaison during most part of the seven years the whistleblower spent holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

According to Narvaez, the fact that the Ecuadorian court did not mention the Geneva Convention or allow Assange's defense team to take part in the legal process proved that both the judicial system and the government had acted in "bad faith."

He also argued that by handing in the WikiLeaks founder to the UK police, the Ecuadorian government betrayed a person that had trusted in them for protection.

"This is a historical shame for my country," Narvaez said, adding that then president Lenin Moreno had handed in Assange to the UK knowingly that he would be subjected to "torture and political persecution."

Since his arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy in 2019, the Australian publisher has been locked up in a maximum-security prison in southeast London, waiting for the outcome of an extradition request filed by the United States.

The whistleblower is wanted by the US Justice Department on espionage and computer fraud charges after WikiLeaks published thousands of secret files and classified information that shed light on war crimes committed by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He faces up to 175 years in solitary confinement inside a top security American prison if convicted in the US.

In January, UK district judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled not to extradite Assange to the United States, citing health reasons and the risk of suicide in the US prison system, but decided that he must wait in prison for the outcome of an appeal filed by US prosecutors.