WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost a legal challenge to new house rules imposed on him by the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he’s been holed up to avoid extradition to the US.
Ecuadorian Judge Karina Martinez dismissed Assange’s request for an injunction against new government rules that prohibit him from commenting on affairs in a way that could harm Ecuador’s foreign relations, set parameters on his visitation privileges and require him to clean up after his cat, Bloomberg reported Monday. Assange could be expelled from the embassy if he fails to comply with the new rules.
Assange has been holed up in a small room in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for more than six years, initially entering it to avoid extradition for a rape charge in Sweden. The country dropped that charge but he’s still facing a UK charge of skipping bail.
The UK maintains that Assange’s exile is self-imposed, and in February a judge upheld a warrant for his arrest. But Ecuadorian officials have apparently grown weary of Assange’s presence in the embassy, saying in January that his situation is “not sustainable.”
“There’s a limit as to how low a country can stoop,” Assange said from the embassy via teleconference at a hearing in Quito of the lawsuit. Assange accused Ecuador’s government of imposing the new rules in a veiled attempt to pressure him to leave the embassy and end his asylum.
Assange is concerned that if he leaves the embassy, the US may also seek to extradite him on espionage charges. Last year, the US Justice Department was reportedly considering filing criminal charges against WikiLeaks and Assange in connection with the 2010 leak of diplomatic cables and military documents.
In June, an international group of lawyers appealed to the UN’s Human Rights Council regarding concerns that Assange’s protracted confinement is having a severe impact on his physical and mental health.
WikiLeaks didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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