moreno
© Agence France-Presse/Cristina Vega
Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno
Ecuador's president Lenin Moreno claimed the expulsion and arrest of Julian Assange had nothing to do with the US pressure or himself seeking revenge for damaging leaks, telling RT these are all insinuations by his predecessor.

Assange spent almost seven years holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London until last week, when Moreno abruptly revoked his political asylum. The WikiLeaks co-founder was immediately arrested by UK police on charges of skipping bail and under a sealed US indictment.

Former president of Ecuador Rafael Correa, who was the one to provide protection to the journalist and publisher back in 2012, slammed Moreno for the move, calling him the "greatest traitor in Ecuadorian history." The incumbent president acted because he wanted to receive benefits from the US and get revenge on Assange for publishing documents about Moreno's "blatant corruption," Correa told RT.

Yet, when RT Spanish correspondent Helena Villar asked Moreno to comment on those accusations, he replied that there was "no way" was going to do it. "I already refuted this in my statements and through the documents I presented," the Ecuadorean leader stated. "Those are the typical schemes, which the former president likes to use so much to hide the fundamental truth. Don't forget that an order for his arrest had been issued in Ecuador."

A congressional probe was launched against Moreno in February after the release of the so-called 'INA Papers,' which got their name from an offshore company that had allegedly been used by the president for shady operations. WikiLeaks denied they had anything to do with the leak, but the Ecuadorian leader believes otherwise.

Moreno was talking to the press in Washington where he'd arrived for a five-day visit, which won't, however, see him meeting any members of the Trump administration. The journalists, of course, wanted to know if the US had anything to do with him giving Assange up.

After all, the Americans want the journalist to be extradited from Britain and prosecuted for alleged conspiracy with former US Army soldier Chelsea Manning, who passed classified US military documents to WikiLeaks in 2010.

"The US had nothing to do with this decision," the president assured the press, insisting that terminating Assange's asylum was "a sovereign decision of the Ecuadorean people."


Comment: Really?



The statement clearly goes against fresh reports from the Ecuadorean capital, Quito, where protesters clashed with police and demanded Moreno's resignation over how he has treated the WikiLeaks founder.


In order to justify his decision, the president again accused Assange of violating all possible rules during his stay at the Ecuadorean embassy and "treating ambassadors, security personnel and other staff as if they were his servants." He even claimed that Assange was "often visited by hackers, whom he instructed on how to distribute information on issues that were of interest to him and his sponsors."