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ECUADOR has stripped Wikileaks founder Julian Assange of his citizenship citing “multiple inconsistencies” in his original application, including unpaid fees and alteration of documents.
The decision was made by an Ecuadorian court on Monday following a claim by the country’s foreign ministry.
Mr Assange was notified of the decision in a formal letter today.
His lawyer Carlos Poveda said the decision had been made without due process and that Mr Assange, who is currently in Britain’s Belmarsh prison, was not able to attend the hearing.
“On the date [Assange] was cited he was deprived of his liberty and with a health crisis,” Mr Poveda said.
“More than the importance of nationality, it is a matter of respecting right and following due process in withdrawing nationality,” he added.
Ecuador’s foreign ministry said the court had “acted independently” and had followed due process.
The lawyer said that he was seeking clarification of the decision.
Mr Assange spent almost seven years in Ecuador’s embassy in London, having taken asylum there in 2012 after moves to extradite him to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault.
But the Australian denied the charges, fearing that it was part of a conspiracy to extradite him to the US after Wikileaks exposed war crimes committed during its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He was granted Ecuadorian citizenship in 2018 under the previous government of former president Lenin Moreno.
The move was made in a bid to make Mr Assange a diplomat and remove him from its London embassy.
In 2019 police entered the building and took him to the high-security Belmarsh prison.
The US has indicted him on 17 charges of spying and one charge of leaking military and diplomatic information.
Mr Assange faces a potential 175-year prison sentence under the draconian Espionage Act.
Earlier this month Britain’s High Court granted the US government the right to appeal a decision which blocked his extradition made in January.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has urged the British government to intervene to prevent his extradition, labelling it a “devastating blow to press freedom.”
Speaking ahead of his trial last year, NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said that extradition would “send a clear signal that journalists and publishers are at risk whenever their work discomforts the United States government.”
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