WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is launching legal action against the government of Ecuador for “violating his fundamental rights”, while still being sheltered in the country’s UK embassy.
WikiLeaks announced on Friday that its general counsel, Baltasar Garzon, had travelled to Ecuador on Thursday to launch the case against the government.
“The move comes almost seven months after Ecuador threatened to remove his protection and summarily cut off his access to the outside world,” the group said in a statement.
It said Ecuador’s government had refused to allow a visit by Human Rights Watch’s general counsel Dinah PoKempner and stopped several meetings with Assange’s lawyers.
“Ecuador’s measures against Julian Assange have been widely condemned by the human rights community,” it added.
Assange’s lawyers are also challenging the legality of Ecuador’s “special protocol”, which it said makes his political asylum “contingent on censoring his freedom of opinion, speech and association.”
Assange has been living at the embassy since June 2012 to avoid a European Arrest Warrant over a rape and molestation allegation in Sweden.
The WikiLeaks founder argued that the claims were “without basis” and said he feared it could lead to his extradition to the US over WikiLeaks’ publishing of classified information.
In May 2017, Sweden's director of public prosecutions confirmed that the allegations had been dropped. However, Assange still faces the lesser charge of failing to surrender to a court when his extradition was approved in 2012, and maintains that this could lead to his extradition to the US.