Ecuador’s president has accused Wikileaks founder Julian Assange of hosting hackers at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Lenin Moreno said Assange had given them directions on how to propagate information on issues important to both him and his financiers.
Moreno added that Swedish programmer Ola Bini, who is in custody in Ecuador, was one of the hackers who visited Assange many times.
Bini lives in Quito and was detained last week just hours after Moreno withdrew Assange’s asylum, allowing him to be arrested by British authorities at the embassy in Knightsbridge.
Moreno claimed Bini hacked mobile phones and online accounts belonging to both private citizens and Ecuador’s government.
In Quito earlier in the day, Bini’s parents called for authorities to release their son while expressing confidence he had done nothing wrong.
His father, Dag Gustafsson, said: “Ola is a friend of Julian Assange, nothing more.”
Meanwhile, demonstrators clashed with police in Ecuador’s capital during a protest against Moreno’s action against Assange, as well as his removal of state workers and the government’s acceptance of a loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Moreno made his allegations at the Inter-American Dialogue during a five-day visit to Washington. He will not have meetings with officials from the Trump administration.
Assange had enjoyed asylum since 2012 at the embassy in London but relations between the Australian and Ecuadorian officials had grown increasingly tense.
Moreno’s government has accused Assange of creating conflict by meddling in international affairs, harassing staff and even smearing faeces on the embassy’s walls.
Assange is in custody in London awaiting sentencing for skipping bail to avoid being sent to Sweden as part of an investigation into a rape allegation.
The US is also seeking his extradition after charging him with conspiring to break into a Pentagon computer system.
Ecuador’s president suggested Assange was able to operate equipment and collaborate with embassy staffers for a long time thanks to the support of Moreno’s predecessor, Rafael Correa, who granted asylum to Assange.
Yesterday Assange was given a journalism award established in honour of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was assassinated by a car bomb in October 2017.
The 2019 GUE/NGL Award for Journalists, Whistleblowers and Defenders of the Right to Information is given to individuals “uncovering the truth and exposing it to the public” and to honour “individuals or groups who have been intimidated and/or persecuted for uncovering the truth and exposing it to the public”.
Nobel Peace prize winner Mairead Maguire collected the award on Assange‘s behalf at an event in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, Wikileaks editor, said: “Through Wikileaks Julian Assange‘s vision of transparency has revolutionalised journalism.
“His imprisonment and threatened extradition to the United States has drawn a sharp line in the sand. You are either encouraging the crackdown on media freedom or you are standing with Julian Assange.”
Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire