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21 February, 2017

Julian Assange stays safe for now as the Left retains power in Ecuador


The successor of Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, is very close to mark a big victory against the Right Wing opponent, Guillermo Lasso, and that's good news for Julian Assange and the Whistleblowers community:

      With just over 88 percent of votes counted in Ecuador's election as of Monday, left-wing front-runner Lenin Moreno led the presidential race with 39.11 percent of the vote, bringing him closer to the 40 percent threshold that he needs to avoid a second round. Moreno's closest contender, conservative former banker Guillermo Lasso of the right-wing CREO party, trailed more than 10 percent behind the presidential favorite with 28.31 percent.

Guillermo Lasso, faithful to the neoliberal establishment, stated recently that he will stop providing asylum to Assange:

      In an interview with the Guardian, Guillermo Lasso, of the rightwing Creo-Suma alliance, said it was time for the WikiLeaks founder to move on because his asylum was expensive and no longer justified. “The Ecuadorian people have been paying a cost that we should not have to bear,” he said during an interview in Quito. “We will cordially ask Señor Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate.”

Telesur gives a short background of the banker Lasso:

Before his first unsuccessful run for the presidency in 2013 — where he came in a distant second to Rafael Correa — Lasso had been one of the most powerful figures in Ecuador's finance sector as president and majority shareholder of the Bank of Guayaquil for 18 years.

[...]

Despite, or perhaps because of, Lasso's controversial short reign as governor — where he attacked civil servants and used state police to violently repress union demonstrations — Mahuad appointed Lasso as Ecuador's minister of finance and energy in 1999.

In that role, Lasso — in a departure from his current promises to eliminate corporate and inheritance taxes — oversaw a significant increase in the sales tax on basic goods which primarily affected poor and middle-class Ecuadoreans.

[...]

Despite overseeing Ecuador's economy in the lead-up to the country's worst ever economic crisis, Lasso himself was never charged in connection to the banking scandal which crippled the country's economy and led to the forced migration of almost three million Ecuadoreans.

In fact, President Mahuad's decision to freeze all bank accounts in the country for a year eventually meant millions of dollars in profits for Lasso and his bank, as people were forced to withdraw their savings at half their value.

From the results so far, Lasso will not be able to challenge Moreno's victory, which means that Julian Assange can feel safe in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for now.

Assange has been trapped in Ecuador's London embassy since 2012 when the left-wing government of Rafael Correa granted him asylum over concerns about his political persecution and potential torture if he were deported to the US. Recall that the United Nations ruled that the UK and Swedish governments were guilty of arbitrarily detaining Assange for continually refusing to guarantee they would not deport him to the US.

Meanwhile, Assange has recently opened a twitter account to repel rumors of his supposed death.

Despite Moreno's victory, the situation for Assange becomes increasingly problematic. Pressure from the US empire continues and Trump's stance shows that he will continue the fierce hunt against him and against the Whistleblowers on behalf of the neoliberal/neocon establishment.

Moreno has made already some statements, apparently to calm the unpredictable Donald Trump:

      “We granted Assange political asylum because his life was in danger. We don’t have the death penalty in Ecuador. We saw that a citizen of the world – it doesn’t matter who he is – was in danger. That’s why we granted him asylum and it was by and large preserved. I say ‘by and large,’ because it all could have been done more competently by the country on which territory he is now. One thing that is clear is that Assange will have to reduce meddling in the policies of the nations we have friendly relations with,” Moreno said in an exclusive interview with RT Spanish. Expanding on his comment, Moreno said that he specifically meant “the way he [Assange] meddled with the election campaign in the United States.”

A global movement is absolutely necessary for the protection and liberation of Julian Assange and the other Whistleblowers.

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