How Shoddy Reporting and Anti-Russian Propaganda Coerced Ecuador to Silence Julian Assange

Many of the recent media claims that have caused this standoff, including assertions of Russia’s role in Catalonia’s independence bid, range from highly dubious to demonstrably false.

By M.C. McGragh and Glenn Greenwald and cross-posted from The Intercept

Julian Assange has been barred from communicating with the outside world for more than three weeks. On March 27, the Government of Ecuador blocked Assange’s internet access and barred him from receiving visitors other than his lawyers. Assange has been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, when Ecuador granted him asylum due to fears that his extradition to Sweden as part of a sexual assault investigation would result in his being sent to the U.S. for prosecution for his work with WikiLeaks. In January of this year, Assange formally became a citizen of Ecuador.

As a result of Ecuador’s recent actions, Assange – long a prolific commentator on political debates around the world – has been silenced for more than three weeks, by a country which originally granted him political asylum and of which he is now a citizen. While Ecuador was willing to defy western dictates to hand over Assange under the presidency of Rafael Correa – who was fiercely protective of Ecuadorian sovereignty even if it meant disobeying western powers – his successor, Lenín Moreno, has proven himself far more subservient, and that mentality – along with Moreno’s increasingly bitter feud with Correa – are major factors in the Ecuadorian government’s newly hostile treatment of Assange.

Yet many of the recent media claims made about Assange that have caused this standoff – which have centered on the alleged role of Russia in the internal Spanish conflict over Catalan independence – range from highly dubious to demonstrably false. The campaign to depict Catalan unrest as a plot fueled by the Kremlin, Assange and even Edward Snowden have largely come from fraudulent assertions in the Spanish daily El Pais and  highly dubious data claims from the so-called “Hamilton 68 dashboard.” The consequences of these false and misleading claims – this actual Fake News – have been mutli-faceted and severe, not just for Assange but for diplomatic relations among multiple countries

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