Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses case over embassy rules

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By Mark Armstrong  with Reuters
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses case over embassy rules

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has lost his court case over new rules imposed by Ecuador's embassy in London.

He claimed the regulations — which included making him clean up after his pet cat and pay for phone calls — were an attempt to push him out.

Assange fears if he had to leave the embassy he would be extradited to the US, who are investigating him over his Wikileaks activities.

But a judge in Quito rejected the lawsuit over Assange's living conditions.

The Australian took refuge in the London embassy six years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden in a sexual assault case that was later dropped.

He remains there to avoid being jailed by the UK for violating the terms of his bail, which he has said would result in him being handed over to Washington.

Ecuador argued the conditions imposed on Assange were aimed at promoting peaceful cohabitation in confined quarters.

They include rules on properly feeding and taking care of his cat, threatening to send it to a home if he does not comply.

He will also have to pay for his own internet, food and laundry.

“If Mr Assange wants to stay and he follows the rules ... he can stay at the embassy as long as he wants,” said Attorney General Inigo Salvador.

Assange’s stay at the embassy had so far cost Ecuador $6 million (€5.28 million), added Salvador.

Foreign Minister Jose Valencia declined to comment on Assange’s assertion that Ecuador sought to hand him over to the United States.

Judge Karina Martinez rejected the lawsuit, saying Ecuador’s foreign ministry was in charge of determining his living conditions.

Relations between Assange and Ecuador have deteriorated as the years have passed, seemingly with no end in sight.

Assange’s legal team said it immediately appealed the ruling.