Why Ecuador Removed Asylum for Julian Assange; Where In the World Is His Cat?

Published on April 12, 2019

Washington, D.C.—Yesterday, British law enforcement arrested WikiLeaks co-founder, Julian Assange, immediately after Assange was kicked out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has taken refuge since 2010.

But, why?

While the controversial whistle-blower has welcomed guests such as Lady Gaga and Pamela Anderson, to his tiny abode, the relationship between him and Ecuador’s government has been anything but welcoming.

Over the years, the relationship has dwindled under Ecuadorian President, Lenin Moreno, who took office in 2017:

Exploring the Legal Timeline

April 11, 2019: Julian Assange’s lawyer makes statement to press after Assange’s appearance at Westminster Magistrate’s Court.
  • August 2010: The Swedish Prosecutor’s Office first issued an international arrest warrant via Interpol, alleging one count of rape and one count of molestation.
  • December 2010: Assange was arrested in London and after two attempts, was finally bailed out in the amount of £240,000 in cash and sureties
  • February 2011: A UK Court (“High Court”) ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden
  • March 2011: Lawyers prepared an appeal against Assange’s extradition to Sweden
  • November 2011: The High Court upholds Sweden’s decision to extradite Assange
  • December 2011: Assange wins right to petition the UK Supreme Court, directly after judges rule that his case has raised “a question of general public importance.”
  • May 2012: The UK’s Supreme Court ruled Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face questioning surrounding the 2010 allegations of rape and molesation.
  • June 2012: Assange applied for political asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London
  • August 2012: Ecuador granted asylum to Assange, believing his human rights to be at risk in event he would be extradited to Sweden and/or the United States
  • August 2015: Running out of time to question him, Swedish prosecutors dropped their investigation into the unlawful coercion and sexual molestation allegations against Assange, but were still concerned with the rape allegation
  • October 2015: London’s Metropolitan Police announced they would no longer be stationing officers outside of the embassy
  • May 2017: Sweden’s director of public prosecutions announced the investigation into the rape allegations concerning Assange, was being dropped.
  • July 2018: The UK and Ecuador announced they were in ongoing discussions concerning Assange’s future
  • October 2018: Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, implemented house rules against Assange for his stay at the embassy
  • December 2018: President Moreno proposed an agreement to Assange’s lawyers for him to leave the embassy, to which his legal team rejected.
  • February 2019: Australia granted Assange a new passport admist fears that Ecuador would be revoking his asylum
  • April 2019: Ecuador revokes Assange’s asylum; London Metro Police immediately detained him for failure to surrender to the court over a 2012 warrant.

Assange, You’re Grounded!

Last year, as a result of Assange’s unpredictable nature with respect to his personal activities, public speaking, and even personal hygiene, the WikiLeaks co-founder was given a set of house rules, including paying for internet use, food and laundry, and implementing basic hygiene, including providing for his cat.

Continued Abuse of the Internet

While no evidence has been presented to this claim, President Moreno had previously ordered Assange to cut back on his online activity soon after taking office in 2017, stating that he “violated the norm of not intervening in the internal affairs of other states,” referring back to January 2019 when WikiLeaks released documents from the Vatican.

There have been ongoing concerns surrounding Assange’s continued association with WikiLeaks, where President Moreno also accused Assange of having installed forbidden “electronic and distortion equipment” and of accessing the embassy’s security files.

Improper Hygiene

Mr. Valencia emphasized that another reason they decided to remove his protection was to prevent the further deterioration of Assange’s health, which if you haven’t already seen the latest pictures of him, he doesn’t look great.

One report from Mr. Valencia indicated that the cleaning staff had described Assange as maintaining “improper hygienic conduct” throughout his stay, a claim that was later rebutted by his attorney, and attributed to “stomach problems.”

Another report indicated that Interior Minister, Paula Romo, complained that their guest had been allowed to engage in behavior such as “putting faeces on the walls of the embassy and other behaviors of that nature,” although some of rebutted that claim to be false.

The Unpredictable Wildcard

While the list goes on, here are a few examples that lend favor to Ecuador’s removal of asylum:

  1. Foreign Minister Jose Valencia telling Congress that Assange had been using a mobile phone that wasn’t registered with the embassy;
  2. Repeatedly insulting mission workers, accusing them of being U.S. spies; and
  3. Damaging facilities by riding his skateboard and playing football, despite warnings against such behavior.

For Ecuador, patience had already worn thin, as Assange was guilty of “repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols,” according to President Moreno. Consequently, the nation just had enough of Assange’s “discourteous and aggressive behavior.”

Where In the World is Julian Assange’s Cat?

And, for the million dollar question you’ve been wondering…where in the world is Assange’s stud of a cat?

Unfortunately, the whereabouts of it are still unknown, as Assange’s Instagram account has not offered any clues since the last photo uploaded in 2017.

Andrew "Drew" Rossow is a former contract editor at Grit Daily.

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