Ecuador's Lenin Moreno: Imperial Tool
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno promised to continue the populist agenda of his predecessor, Rafael Correa.
In office, he breached his pledges straightaway, implementing neoliberal policies, serving pro-Western and privileged interests at the expense of ordinary Ecuadorians, abandoning Correa's agenda, betraying people who elected him.
During Correa's tenure, poverty declined by 38%, extreme poverty by 47%. Social spending as a percent of GDP doubled. So did public investment.
The UN called Ecuador's education system one of the region's most improved under Correa. He expelled the Pentagon from the country.
His outreach to Ecuadorians included delivering his message on television through his weekly truth-telling programs, an antidote to corporate media rubbish.
Lasting several hours, he argued against neoliberal harshness. A University of Illinois doctorate in economics, he's an expert on the topic.
Moreno triumphed by promising continuity. His agenda is polar opposite. According to Law Professor Oswaldo Ruiz-Chiriboga, after running as a Correa loyalist, Moreno "implemented the plan of (his) opponents," adding:
So-called human rights groups like "Human Rights Watch (and) Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission (are) applauding Moreno('s)" right-wing neoliberal agenda, including his threat to expel Julian Assange from Ecuador's London embassy.
"I have no idea what legal basis they are using. I believe there is none, or none that is public for us to discuss," Ruiz-Chiriboga explained, adding:
"The fact that Assange is a citizen is kind of irrelevant on this point because (he's) under Ecuadorian jurisdiction. A person under the jurisdiction of a state has the same rights as any other citizen except of course for political rights."
"But the freedom of expression for Assange should be protected because he is a person, not because he is Ecuadorian. The Ecuadorian government is not doing that."
For months, reports suggested Moreno might collude with the US and UK on Assange - ignoring his citizenship rights, along with revoking his asylum granted him in Ecuador's London embassy by Correa in August 2012.
If handed over to UK authorities, extradition to the US is certain where a sealed indictment awaits him, allegedly accusing him of spying under the long ago outdated 1917 Espionage Act, enacted shortly after America's entry into WW I – used to wrongfully prosecute, convict, imprison, and torture Chelsea Manning.
Trump regime officials want him treated the same way - for the crime of whistleblowing journalism the way it's supposed to be.
Earlier Assange explained that he and WikiLeaks have the right "to publish newsworthy content. Consistent with the US Constitution, we publish material that we can confirm to be true," he explained.
On Tuesday, Moreno again threatened to expel Assange from Ecuador's London embassy, saying he "repeatedly violated the conditions of his asylum."
They're unacceptable, imposed by him, not Correa, violating his free expression rights, denying him Internet and telephone access, along with no visitation rights other than legal counsel - then partially lifting harsh conditions way short of acceptably.
He remains barred from speaking publicly or involvement in the political affairs of other countries. He only has limited use of his computer, tablets, and phone.
Embassy permission is required for all his activities, severe limitations of his free expression rights imposed.
While "exercising his right of communication and of freedom of expression," he's prohibited from activities potentially damaging the relationship of Ecuador with other states.
Visitation permission requires Ecuadorian embassy authorization. Violation of rules may result in terminating his asylum status, leaving him vulnerable to imprisonment in the US.
Last December, Ecuador stopped paying for his food, medical care (available in the embassy alone because leaving it assures arrest), laundry, and most everything else, providing only minimal space for him to reside.
His status and safety are gravely threatened. Moreno said he intends deciding on his fate "in the short term," suggesting he'll revoke his asylum, expelling him to the hands of UK authorities, followed by extradition to the US.
Moreno lied claiming Assange "hack(ed) private accounts (and) phones." The phony accusation relates to a WikiLeaks tweet about what's referred to in Ecuador as the INA Papers.
In March, information from Moreno's cell phone and gmail account sent to an opposition lawmaker was published online, the material called the INA Papers, allegedly implicating Moreno, his brother, and close associates in an offshore corruption scandal, involving perjury and money laundering.
Denying wrongdoing, Moreno turned truth on its head, saying "(i)n WikiLeaks we have seen evidence of spying, intervention in private conversations on phones, including photos of my bedroom, of what I eat, of how my wife and daughters and friends dance."
He also accused Correa of spying on him by planting a hidden camera in the wall of his presidential office. Correa called the charge absurd.
WikiLeaks didn't publish the INA Papers. Pressured by Washington and Britain, Moreno has been seeking an easy way to justify revocation of Assange's asylum. He provided no evidence supporting his charges because none exists.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention upheld Assange's political refugee status.
As a journalist and private citizen, he and WikiLeaks are entitled to speak freely on any topics, especially things vital to the public interest like crimes of state - what independent investigative journalists do as a public service.
Moreno's intention to resolve Assange's status as a political refugee in the short term is worrisome. His fate and fundamental rights hang in the balance.
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