Julian Assange’s new ‘visits and communications’ regime is a small victory, but DiEM25 will continue pushing for his freedom

by Renata Ávila

Our efforts as a legal team demanding respect for the basic rights of DiEM25 Advisory Panel member Julian Assange have achieved a small victory. Our requests were heard out by both the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Both share the role of ensuring that countries live up to their international legal obligations, without exception. The government of Ecuador, after meeting them, then lifted some of the restrictions he is subjected to, and restored access to his electronic communications (read the official “protocol” regulating Julian’s visits, communications and medical assistance here).

While we welcome this development, we want to call your attention to the fact that we have ongoing concerns over and above these restored communications. We refer to the restrictions imposed by Ecuador on Julian’s freedom to speak, his work as a journalist and his private life, including major intrusions on his privacy and on the privacy of his visitors. 

We believe the new “protocol” regulating Julian’s visits, communications and right to medical assistance are insufficient and remain inhumane. In addition, we strongly suspect that such a new “protocol” is not about genuinely restoring Julian’s rights to free speech and improve his living conditions. Instead, this latest development seems to be more of an Ecuadorian Government’s PR operation that aims to: 1. appease the loud voices denouncing the systematic violation of Julian’s human rights, as well as calling for his immediate release, and 2.  Set up an arbitrary legal minefield to easily trigger – and justify – Julian’s ejection from the Ecuadorian embassy.

This protracted situation needs urgent action from both the government of Ecuador and the government of the UK, both of whom should take serious steps to end this situation by simply respecting international law. 

The UK continues restricting even the most basic and humane access to sunlight and fresh air. It continues to refuse safe passage. It continues to break international human rights law by blocking Julian from his right to asylum. It is time for the UK to bring this situation to a prompt end by abiding by the UN ruling, which ordered his immediate release more than two years ago, guaranteeing that he won’t be extradited to the US.

As DiEM25, we will continue pushing for Julian Assange’s freedom until he is released.

Renata Ávila is a member of DiEM25’s Coordinating Collective, and Julian Assange’s legal team.

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