Ecuador has revoked its citizenship in Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who is currently in a British prison.
Ecuador’s legal system formally notified the Australian of the invalidity of his naturalization in a letter that came in response to a claim filed by the South American country’s State Department.
A naturalization is reconsidered when given on the basis of concealment of relevant facts, false documents or fraud. The Ecuadorian authorities said Assange’s naturalization letter had several inconsistencies, different signatures, the possible change of documents and unpaid fees, among other issues.
Carlos Poveda, Assange’s lawyer, said the decision was made without due process and Assange was not allowed to appear in the case.
“On the date [Assange] was quoted, he was deprived of his liberty and with a health crisis inside the detention center where he was being held, ”said Poveda.
Poveda said he would file appeals and ask for a reinforcement and clarification of the decision. “More than the importance of nationality, it is a matter of respecting rights and following the proper process of withdrawing nationality.”
Assange received Ecuadorian citizenship in January 2018 as part of a failed attempt by then-President Lenín Moreno’s government to make him a diplomat to get him out of his embassy in London.
On Monday, the Pichincha court for controversial administrative matters overturned that decision.
Ecuador’s foreign ministry said the court had “acted independently and followed a proper process in a case which took place under the previous government and which was raised by the same previous government”.
Assange, 50, has been in the high-security Belmese prison in London since he was arrested in April 2019 for skipping guarantee seven years earlier during a separate legal battle.
Assange spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian London embassy, where he fled in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to be accused of rape and sexual assault, which he denied. Sweden dropped the investigation into sex crimes in November 2019 because so much time had passed.
U.S. prosecutors have charged Assange with 17 espionage charges and a computer abuse charge in connection with WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
Earlier this month, Britain’s Supreme Court acquitted the US government permission to appeal against a decision that the WikiLeaks founder cannot be sent to the United States to be accused of espionage.
In January, a lower court judge had rejected a U.S. request to send Assange to the United States
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