QUITO – President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador told radio stations Tuesday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has “repeatedly violated” the terms of his asylum in the nation’s London embassy, where he has lived for nearly seven years.
Moreno, interviewed by the Ecuadorian Radio Broadcasters’ Association, said Assange does not have the right to “hack private accounts or phones” and cannot intervene in the politics of other countries, especially those that have friendly relations with Ecuador.
Attorneys for Assange did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Moreno made the comments on Assange after private photographs of him and his family when they were living in Europe several years ago circulated on social media. Although Moreno stopped short of explicitly blaming Assange for the leak, the government said it believed the photos were shared by WikiLeaks.
“Mr. Assange has violated the agreement we reached with him and his legal counsel too many times,” Moreno said in the interview in the city of Guayaquil. “It is not that he cannot speak and express himself freely, but he cannot lie, nor much less hack private accounts or phones.”
Moreno did not say whether or not the government will take steps to remove Assange from the embassy.
Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation.
That probe was later dropped, but Assange fears he could be extradited to face charges in the United States, where federal prosecutors are investigating WikiLeaks.
Ecuador last year established new rules for Assange’s behavior while in the embassy, which required him to pay his medical bills and clean up after his pet cat. He challenged the rules in local and international tribunals, arguing they violated his human rights. Both courts ruled against him.
Last month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is linked to the Organization of American States, rejected Assange’s request that Ecuador ease the conditions it has imposed on his residence in the London embassy.
Assange says Ecuador is seeking to end his asylum and is putting pressure on him by isolating him from visitors and spying on him. Ecuador has said its treatment of Assange has been in line with international law, but that his situation “cannot be extended indefinitely.”