Ecuador has spent $5 million housing Julian Assange - report - | WBTV Charlotte

Ecuador has spent $5 million housing Julian Assange - report

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he speaks on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy, in London. (Source: AP Photo/Matt Dunham) WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he speaks on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy, in London. (Source: AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

(RNN) – The government of Ecuador has run up a $5 million tab accommodating Julian Assange in their UK embassy, according to a report in The Guardian.

The WikiLeaks founder has effectively lived under house arrest in the London building for nearly five years, after Britain denied his appeal for extradition to Sweden in 2012.

The authorities there wanted him for questioning related to rape and sexual assault accusations two women made against him in 2010, which he said were concocted in a plot for Sweden to then extradite him to the US.

After his appeal was denied, he took up asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy. He was granted citizenship by the country in January, and even though Sweden has abandoned its extradition request, he still cannot leave the embassy because Britain says it would arrest him for jumping bail back in 2012.

Throughout this time, Ecuador has hosted Assange in an elaborate living arrangement that reportedly involves an office at the embassy converted into a studio apartment.

According to The Guardian, it has also included an expansive “secret intelligence budget” Ecuador has used to support his work.

Democrats accused the Australian of collaborating with the Russian government when his site leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign.

The Guardian obtained documents showing the arrangement, called “Operation Guest” and later “Operation Hotel,” cost the Ecuadorian government an average of $66,000 a month for “security, intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence” to protect Assange.

The paper, which conducted its investigation with the Ecuadorian news outlet Focus Ecuador, reported the initiative had the direct approval of Ecuador’s president until last May, Rafael Correa.

Assange has been less warmly received by the current president, Lenin Moreno, who has called him a “problem.”

The Guardian said it obtained the documents from Senain, Ecuador’s intelligence agency which Moreno shuttered in March. They showed “Operation Hotel” cost nearly $1 million between June 2012 and August 2013.

Expenses over the years included measures ranging from extensive security and monitoring for Assange to media relations consulting to help improve his image.

The Guardian also reported that, from within, Assange penetrated the embassy’s own internal networks, giving him access to Ecuadorian diplomatic communications.

The WikiLeaks Twitter account disputed that claim, saying Assange “did not ‘hack into’ embassy satellites. That’s an anonymous libel aligned with the current UK-US government onslaught against Mr. Assange’s asylum – while he can’t respond.”

The WikiLeaks tweet said it would sue The Guardian.

Copyright 2018 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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