The recent violation of Assange’s rights as both political asylee and citizen of Ecuador sends a chilling message to Ecuadorians who are being increasingly targeted for their political views both within Ecuador and abroad.
by Whitney Webb
Part 4 - Expanding the intimidation playbook
These alleged efforts to target and intimidate not just Assange supporters in Ecuador but also allies of former President Rafael Correa follow years of similar actions to intimidate Moreno’s critics, an effort that arguably began following the imprisonment of former Vice President Jorge Glas, a Correa ally who was sentenced to six years in prison in 2017 for his alleged role in a corruption scandal involving a Brazilian company. Moreno has used the imprisonment of Glas, who was Moreno’s own vice president at the time, as part of a campaign to portray himself as an “anti-corruption” crusader, an image that has been severely undercut following the revelations of the INA Papers scandal.
Despite having several health conditions, Glas went on a hunger strike last year for several weeks in protest of poor conditions and a lack of access to healthcare. Glas and his family have claimed that the charges against Glas as well as his poor treatment in prison are “political revenge.”
Several months after Glas was sentenced, efforts were made to imprison Rafael Correa himself when an Ecuadorian judge issued a warrant for Correa’s arrest that would have led to Correa’s preventive detention while charges of his alleged involvement in a 2012 kidnapping plot were investigated. Efforts were made by Moreno’s government to extradite Correa from Belgium to Ecuador, but were ultimately unsuccessful. Correa asserted the charges were entirely false and aimed at preventing any sort of political comeback for the former president in Ecuador.
More recently, and soon after Assange’s arrest, Correa was again targeted — this time by Facebook — which deleted Correa’s page, which had nearly 1.5 million followers at the time. Facebook claimed in a statement given to El Comercio that Correa’s account had violated Facebook policies regarding “the disclosure of personal information such as phone numbers, addresses, bank account data, cards, or any record or data that could compromise the integrity, physical or financial, of the people in our community.”
Correa later claimed that this had been done to his posts regarding the INA Papers scandal involving Moreno’s personal finances since he had highlighted the account number of Moreno’s alleged offshore bank account in Panama. That account is at the center of the scandal and is alleged to have been used in money-laundering and other illegal activities. Past reports published by MintPress and other outlets have noted that Facebook has increasingly coordinated page deletions with groups linked to foreign governments, such as the Atlantic Council and the German Marshall Fund, which both receive funding from the U.S. government.