Ecuador’s Moreno says Wikileaks’ Assange can leave embassy if he wants

In this file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange greets supporters from a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. (AP)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Ecuador’s Moreno says Wikileaks’ Assange can leave embassy if he wants

  • Assange has claimed that Ecuador is seeking to end his asylum and hand him over to the United States
  • Wikileaks has released thousands of classified US military documents, among other disclosures

QUITO: Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said on Thursday that there was a “path” for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the South American country’s London embassy, where he has lived for six years under asylum, if he so chooses.
Assange has claimed that Ecuador is seeking to end his asylum and hand him over to the United States, where prosecutors are preparing to pursue a criminal case against him. Wikileaks has released thousands of classified US military documents, among other disclosures.
“There is a path for Mr. Assange to take the decision to exit into near freedom,” Moreno said in a local radio interview.
He noted that Assange still faces jail time in the United Kingdom for violating bail terms when he sought asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation.
The investigation was later dropped, but Great Britain says he will be arrested if leaves the embassy.
Moreno said the sentence for skipping bail would be “not long.” The UK has told Ecuador that his jail time would not exceed six months and that he would not face extradition if he left the embassy.
Assange insists British authorities will hand him over to the United States.
“I do not like the presence of Mr. Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy, but we have been respectful of his human rights and with that respect in mind we think that six years is too long for someone to remain nearly incarcerated in an embassy,” Moreno said.


US women detained for speaking Spanish sue border agency

In this Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, photo provided by the ACLU of Montana, Martha Hernandez, left, and Ana Suda pose in front of a convenience store in Havre, Mont., where they say they were detained by a U.S Border Patrol agent for speaking Spanish last year. (AP)
Updated 14 min 39 sec ago
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US women detained for speaking Spanish sue border agency

  • The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed suit against US Customs and Border Protection on behalf of the women, who live in Havre

LOS ANGELES: Two US women detained by a border patrol agent in the state of Montana after he heard them speaking Spanish in a grocery store have sued the country’s border protection agency.
Video of the incident — which took place last May in the small town of Havre — showed Agent Paul O’Neal tell Ana Suda and Martha Hernandez that he had asked to see their identification as it was unusual to hear Spanish speakers in the state, which borders Canada.
“It has to do with you guys speaking Spanish in the store in a state where it’s predominately English speaking,” he said.
“It’s not illegal, it’s just very unheard of up here,” he told the women.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed suit against US Customs and Border Protection on behalf of the women, who live in Havre.
Suda and Hernandez say in the lawsuit that O’Neal detained them for 40 minutes.
California native Hernandez and Suda, who was born in Texas, said they were standing in line to buy milk and eggs when the agent — who was standing behind them — commented on Hernandez’s accent, and asked the women where they were born.
“I asked, ‘Are you serious’?” Suda said, according to the lawsuit. “Agent O’Neal responded that he was ‘dead serious’.”
The two women say they were then asked to show identification and questioned outside the store, before eventually being released.
“The incident itself is part of a broader pattern that we’ve seen of abusive tactics by border patrol which has gotten worse since the Trump administration, which has left border patrol officers feeling emboldened to take actions like this,” Cody Wofsy, an attorney with the ACLU, told AFP.
“This has been devastating for (Suda and Hernandez),” he added.
“Havre is a small town, they felt ostracized and humiliated and made to feel unwelcome in their own town and in their own country.”
He noted the United States has no official language, with Spanish by far the most common language spoken after English.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesman declined to comment on the case.
“As a matter of policy, US Customs and Border Protection does not comment on pending litigation,” he told AFP in a statement. “However, lack of comment should not be construed as agreement or stipulation with any of the allegations.”