Contains selective news articles I select

Archive for the ‘Refuge Land of Ecuador’ Category

WikiLeaks’ Assange arrested at Ecuador embassy in London

April 11, 2019

LONDON (AP) — Police in London arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy Thursday for failing to surrender to the court in 2012, shortly after the South American nation revoked his asylum.

Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno said a tweet that his government withdrew Assange’s status for repeated violations of international conventions. Moreno described it as a “sovereign decision” due to “repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life.”

Assange took refuge in the embassy in London in 2012 and has been holed up inside ever since. “Today I announce that the discourteous and aggressive behavior of Mr. Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declarations of its allied organization, against Ecuador, and especially the transgression of international treaties, have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable,” Moreno said in a video statement released on Twitter.

Police said Assange has been taken into “custody at a central London police station where he will remain, before being presented before Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as is possible.” Video posted online by Ruptly, the agency wing of Russia Today, showed about five to six men in suits forcibly escorting Assange out of the embassy building, surrounding him as he staggered down the steps and boarded a police van.

Police said officers were invited into the embassy by the ambassador following the Ecuador government’s withdrawal of Assange’s asylum. Assange had not come out of the embassy for years because he feared arrest and extradition to the United States for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt thanked Moreno for breaking the impasse, saying on Twitter that Assange “is no hero and no one is above the law.” His arrest came a day after WikiLeaks accused the Ecuador’s government of an “extensive spying operation” against Assange.

WikiLeaks claims meetings with lawyers and a doctor inside the embassy over the past year were secretly filmed. WikiLeaks said in a tweeted statement that Ecuador illegally terminated Assange’s political asylum “in violation of international law.”

Ecuador’s ex-president seeks protection from arrest order

July 20, 2018

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ex-President Rafael Correa asked for international protection Friday after an Ecuadorean judge ordered that he be jailed for missing a court date, even though the former leader is living in Europe.

Correa appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for protection, saying he is in grave danger from the criminal prosecution. While in power, he denounced the commission as being illegitimate.

A judge in Ecuador ordered Correa’s arrest and extradition from Belgium after he failed to appear for legal proceedings in connection with a kidnapping case. Correa has not been charged with a crime, but officials requested he appear periodically in court in Ecuador’s capital as they investigate the botched 2012 kidnapping of his former political rival Fernando Balda.

The 55-year-old Correa lives in his wife’s native Belgium.

Ecuador grants nationality to WikiLeaks founder

January 11, 2018

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after more than five years of living in asylum at the nation’s embassy in London, officials announced Thursday.

Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said officials accepted Assange’s request for naturalization in December, and they continue to look for a long-term resolution to a situation that has vexed officials since 2012.

“What naturalization does is provide the asylum seeker another layer of protection,” Espinosa said. Ecuador gave Assange asylum after he sought refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden for investigation of sex-related claims. Sweden dropped the case, but Assange has remained in the embassy because he is still subject to arrest in Britain for jumping bail.

He also fears a possible U.S. extradition request based on his leaking of classified State Department documents. The Australian-born Assange posted a photograph of himself wearing a yellow Ecuadorean national soccer team jersey on Instagram Wednesday and his name now appears in the Andean country’s national registry.

The new citizenship status, however, appears to change little for Assange in the immediate future. He would still need to alert British authorities of any movement outside the embassy. “Even if he has two or three nationalities, the United Kingdom will continue in its efforts against him,” said Fredy Rivera, an expert in foreign affairs at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Ecuador.

Espinosa said Ecuador is trying to make Assange a member of its diplomatic team, which would grant him additional rights under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, including special legal immunity and safe passage.

Britain’s Foreign Office said earlier Thursday it has rejected Ecuador’s request to grant him diplomatic status in the U.K. “Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice,” the office said.

Though protected by Ecuador, the relationship between Assange and nation’s leaders has at times been dicey. Ecuador has repeatedly urged Assange not to interfere in the affairs of other countries following his frequent online comments on international issues.

The biggest crisis came in October 2016, when the embassy cut his internet service after WikiLeaks published a trove of emails from then-U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He was also a point of contention in Ecuador’s 2017 presidential election. Conservative candidate Guillermo Lasso pledged to evict the Australian within 30 days of taking office, while current President Lenin Moreno said he would allow him to stay. Assange later taunted after Lasso’s loss that he would “cordially invite Lasso to leave Ecuador within 30 days.”

Moreno issued a warning reminding Assange not to meddle in politics. He has also called Assange a hacker.

Protests rattle Ecuador following election fraud claims

April 04, 2017

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Supporters of Ecuadorean opposition leader Guillermo Lasso gathered in the streets for a second night Monday to protest what they consider fraud at the ballot box that tilted a presidential runoff in favor of his leftist rival.

Sunday’s razor-thin election win by ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno bucked the trend of right-wing electoral victories in South America following 15 years of leftist domination. Even as calls from Latin American governments congratulating Moreno poured in, Lasso, a conservative banker, vowed to keep up the fight against the installation of an “illegitimate” government.

“We’re not afraid of the miserable cowards who are on the wrong side of history,” he told a crowd of a few thousand supporters outside the National Electoral Council in Quito. By nightfall, many supporters went home but a few hundred die-hards, some with children in tow, remained in a peaceful vigil. A line of riot police looked on.

The scene was much calmer than the one on election night, when thousands of outraged Lasso supporters shouting “fraud” crashed through metal barricades to almost reach the entrance of the electoral council’s headquarters in Quito. Scuffles also broke out in Guayaquil, where tear gas was fired to break up the crowd.

With more than 99 percent of polling places counted, Moreno had 51 percent of the vote while Lasso stood at just under 49 percent. Key to Lasso’s challenge of the results in all of Ecuador’s 24 provinces were three exit polls that showed him winning. One by pollster Cedatos, which accurately predicted the results of the first round, gave him a victory by six percentage points.

Part of the problem is the opposition’s distrust of the National Electoral Council, which it says has become an appendage of the executive in the way the electoral board in Venezuela has all but lost independence under President Nicolas Maduro, a key ally of Correa.

“We’re looking at an unprecedented situation: those behind the fraud are the judges themselves,” Lasso told foreign reporters, adding that his campaign would seek a recount once the results are certified. “We expect they’ll deny our requests but in doing so they’ll be confirming the fraud.”

Despite such heated rhetoric Lasso so far has failed to present any evidence of vote tampering except for a single voting act of 248 ballots from a rural area whose tally is says was reversed in favor of Moreno when official results were computed.

The Organization of American States said its mission of electoral observers that visited at random 480 voting centers nationwide found no discrepancies between the tallies and the official results and encouraged Lasso to issue complaints through institutional channels.

Correa accused Lasso supporters of trying to deny the results and provoke violence. On Monday, he sent a flurry of tweets saying the Lasso campaign had hired Cedatos. “By force they want to achieve what they can’t at the ballot box,” he said.

He also appeared alongside Moreno at changing of the guard ceremony at the presidential palace. Before a crowd of hundreds of supporters, the apparent President-elect sang “happy birthday” to Correa, who turns 54 later this week.

For weeks Ecuadoreans polarized by 10 years of Correa’s iron-fisted rule had been bracing for a contested vote. With Ecuador’s economy slated to shrink by 2.7 percent this year as oil prices remain low, analysts had been anticipating that Lasso would rally support from the 60 percent of voters who backed anti-Correa candidates in the first round and join the growing list of Latin American nations — Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Venezuela — shifting to the right in recent elections.

The majority of voters also said they were hungry for change amid ongoing corruption allegations related to bribes that Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht paid to officials in Correa’s government and a $12 million contracting scandal at state-run PetroEcuador.

Yet in the final weeks of the race, Moreno inched ahead in polls amid an aggressive campaign led by Correa to cast Lasso as a wealthy, out-of-touch politician who profited from the country’s 1999 banking crisis. Moreno, 64, also benefited from last-minute doubts that the pro-business Lasso if elected would gut social programs that have endeared poor voters to Correa’s “Citizens’ Revolution.”

Outside the region, the election was being closely watched by supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living under asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012. Before the election, Lasso had said he would evict the Australian activist, who is wanted for extradition by Sweden, within 30 days of taking office. Moreno said he would allow him to stay.

On his Twitter account shortly after the results became known, Assange took a jab at Lasso’s pledge. “I cordially invite Lasso to leave Ecuador within 30 days (with or without his tax haven millions),” he wrote.

Associated Press writer Joshua Goodman in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed to this report.

Leftist claims win in Ecuador election; rival cries foul

April 03, 2017

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Leftist candidate Lenin Moreno appeared to have won Ecuador’s presidential election but his opposition rival refused to recognize the results, calling on his supporters to take to the streets to guard against “fraud.”

Sunday’s second-round runoff in the Andean nation of 16 million was being watched closely as a barometer of whether the left, which had dominated South American politics for the past 15 years, could stop a string of right-wing victories across the region.

With more than 97 percent of voting acts counted, Moreno garnered 51 percent of the vote while conservative banker Guillermo Lasso stood at just under 49 percent. A difference of about 224,000 votes separated the two candidates with a smaller number of ballots still left to count.

Lasso said he would challenge the results in all of Ecuador’s 24 provinces after three exit polls showed him winning. He also questioned why results that took three days to calculate following the first round of voting in February were announced so quickly in Sunday’s runoff.

“This is very sickening. We’re not going to allow it,” Lasso told supporters, adding that he had shared his concerns with the head of the Organization of American States in a phone conversation. He accused President Rafael Correa of trying to install an “illegitimate” government and called on his supporters to protest peacefully but firmly.

Thousands of outraged Lasso supporters shouting “fraud” crashed through metal barricades to almost reach the entrance of the electoral council’s headquarters in Quito. By midnight a few hundred protesters remained.

In Guayaquil, where Lasso is from, supporters shouted “Get out Correa!” and threw sticks at riot police in formation before being pushed back with tear gas. There were reports of small scuffles and clashes in other cities.

Correa accused Lasso supporters of trying to disavow the results and provoke violence, while the head of the electoral council, a favorite punching bag of the opposition, appealed for calm. “Ecuador deserves that its political actors show ethical responsibility in recognizing the democratic will expressed by the people at the voting booths,” National Electoral President Juan Pablo Pozo said while announcing results.

So far the only evidence of possible fraud presented by Lasso’s campaign are the results in one tiny provincial voting center that it said were reversed when they were reported to electoral authorities in Quito. There was no immediate comment from the OAS, which sent a mission of electoral observers.

Moreno, meanwhile, said he would start work immediately on his transition. With Correa standing behind him, the two joined supporters in singing leftist classics in an outdoor rally. Outside the region, the election was being closely watched by supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living under asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012. Before the election, Lasso had said he would evict the Australian activist, who is wanted for extradition by Sweden, within 30 days of taking office. Moreno said he would allow him to stay.

On his Twitter account shortly after the results became known, Assange took a jab at Lasso’s pledge. “I cordially invite Lasso to leave Ecuador within 30 days (with or without his tax haven millions),” he wrote.

Three exit polls had shown Lasso winning, including one that accurately predicted the first-round results and gave him a six-percentage point victory. A quick count of voting acts by a respected local watchdog found there was a technical tie with a difference of less than 0.6 percentage points separating the two candidates. The group refrained from saying which candidate had the advantage.

Correa said the exit polls had “lied.” “The moral fraud of the right-wing won’t go unpunished,” he wrote on Twitter. For weeks Ecuadoreans polarized by 10 years of Correa’s iron-fisted rule had been bracing for a contested vote

With Ecuador’s economy slated to shrink by 2.7 percent this year as oil prices remain low, analysts had been anticipating that Lasso would rally support from the 60 percent of voters who backed anti-Correa candidates in the first round and join the growing list of Latin American nations — Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Venezuela — shifting to the right in recent elections.

The majority of voters also said they were hungry for change amid ongoing corruption allegations related to bribes Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht paid to officials in Correa’s government and a $12 million contracting scandal at state-run PetroEcuador.

Yet in the final weeks of the race, Moreno inched ahead in polls amid an aggressive campaign led by Correa to cast Lasso as a wealthy, out-of-touch politician who profited from the country’s 1999 banking crisis. Moreno also benefited from last-minute doubts that the pro-business Lasso if elected would gut social programs that have endeared poor voters to Correa’s “Citizens’ Revolution.”

Moreno, who has used a wheelchair since being shot in an attempted robbery two decades ago, cuts a softer image than the infamously irritable Correa which was on display Sunday night as he addressed supporters.

“It’s time for peace and union. Everyone will have a new opportunity and we will seek dialogue and harmony,” said Moreno. “Our hand is outstretched.”

Associated Press writer Joshua Goodman in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed to this report.

Leftist Moreno heading to disputed win in Ecuador election

April 03, 2017

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno looked headed to victory in Ecuador’s presidential runoff Sunday but his rival refused to recognize the results, claiming he was the victim of fraud in what could set the stage for protests.

The election in the small Andean nation of 16 million was being watched closely for whether it marked a comeback for leftist candidates after a string of right-wing victories across Latin America, With almost 96 percent of voting acts counted, the National Electoral Council said Moreno had 51 percent of the vote to banker Guillermo Lasso’s 49 percent. A difference of 214,000 votes separated the two candidates with about twice the number of votes still left to count.

Lasso demanded a recount after three exit polls showed him winning. He also questioned why results that took three days to calculate following the first round of voting in February were announced so quickly in Sunday’s runoff.

“This is very sickening. We’re not going to allow it,” said Lasso, who called on supporters to protest the results peacefully but firmly. “They’ve crossed a line, which is pretending to abuse the people’s will” and install an “illegitimate” government, Lasso said.

So far the only evidence of possible fraud presented by Lasso’s campaign are the results in one tiny provincial voting center that it said were reversed when they were reported to electoral authorities in Quito

Thousands of outraged Lasso supporters shouting “fraud” broke through metal barricades and almost reached the entrance of the electoral council’s headquarters in Quito before being pushed back by police. A similar scuffle took place outside the electoral offices in Guayaquil.

Moreno supporters celebrated and accused their opponents of trying to disavow results. The head of the electoral council, a favorite punching bag of the opposition, appealed for calm. “Ecuador deserves that its political actors show ethical responsibility in recognizing the democratic will expressed by the people at the voting booths,” said National Electoral President Juan Pablo Pozo. “Not a single vote has been given or taken away from anyone.”

Three exit polls, including one that accurately predicted the first-round results, showed Lasso winning by as much as six percentage points. A quick count of voting acts by a respected local watchdog found there was a technical tie with a difference of less than 0.6 percentage points separating the two candidates. The group refrained from saying which candidate had the advantage.

“The moral fraud of the right-wing won’t go unpunished,” Correa said on Twitter, referring to what Moreno called misleading exit polls that had “lied” to his rival. Earlier, a jubilant Lasso claimed victory and told supporters in Guayaquil that he would free political prisoners and heal divisions created by 10 years of iron-fisted rule by Correa. Before the election, he said he would evict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy in London within 30 days of taking office while Moreno has said he will allow him to stay. .

With Ecuador’s economy slated to shrink by 2.7 percent this year as oil prices remain low and with a majority of citizens stating in surveys that they are eager for change, analysts had been anticipating that Ecuadoreans would back Lasso and join the growing list of Latin American nations shifting to the right.

Yet in the final weeks of the race, Moreno had inched ahead in polls amid an aggressive campaign led by Correa to cast Lasso as a wealthy, out-of-touch politician who profited from the country’s 1999 banking crisis.

Authorities deployed thousands of officers to beef up security at vote-processing centers around the country after a contentious first-round election on Feb. 19, in which Moreno fell just short of the required threshold to avoid a runoff.

The vote count dragged on for several days before the official results were announced, provoking accusations of fraud from both sides and angry protests that have injected an unusual degree of volatility in the election results.

Fearing a contested election, church leaders have appealed to both campaigns to accept whatever the results. Lasso has put forward a pro-business agenda aimed at attracting foreign investment, reducing taxes and generating more jobs and in recent days drew comparisons between continuing a Correa-style government and going down the same path as socialist Venezuela.

Lasso has benefited from ongoing corruption allegations related to bribes Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht paid to officials in Correa’s government and a $12 million contracting scandal at state-run PetroEcuador, but analysts say he has not connected with lower-income voters.

While Lasso has said he would evict Assange from the embassy where Ecuador granted him asylum in 2012 to prevent his extradition to Sweden, Moreno has said he could stay, increasing international interest in Sunday’s vote.

AP Writer Joshua Goodman contributed to this report from Caracas, Venezuela.

Death toll from Ecuador earthquake tops 650

April 24, 2016

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — The death toll from last week’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake that flattened towns along Ecuador’s coast has risen to 654 with another 58 people missing, the government said Saturday.

The website of the secretariat for risk management said that 113 people had been rescued alive following the quake and more than 25,000 people remained in shelters. The death toll from Ecuador’s quake has surpassed that of Peru’s 2007 temblor, making it the deadliest quake in South America since one in Colombia in 1999 killed more than 1,000 people.

Hundreds of aftershocks have rattled the country since last Saturday night’s quake and Ecuadoreans are still sleeping outside and struggling to find food and water. Aid is arriving from abroad but relief workers have warned of delays in water distribution and said mosquito-borne illness could spread through the camps.

President Rafael Correa has said the quake caused $3 billion in damage and warned that the reconstruction effort will take years. His administration is temporarily raising taxes to fund the recovery. Even before the quake, Ecuador was bracing for a bout of austerity, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting the economy would shrink 4.5 percent this year.

Tag Cloud