Julian Assange's intervention on Catalan independence created a gap between the WikiLeaks founder and the Ecuadorian government, which Assange has hosted in its London embassy for almost six years, the Guardian has learned.
Sources speaking on the condition of anonymity Assange's support for the separatists, including a November meeting, led to a backlash in Spain, which in turn sparked deep concern in the Ecuadorian government.
While Assange's role in the US presidential election was a focus of the US Attorney's office Participation in Spanish politics seems to have hurt Ecuador the most.
The Ecuadorians disrupted Assange's Internet connection and ended their access to visitors on March 28th. He said he violated an agreement at the end of last year not to publish any news that might bother other states.
Quito has been looking for a solution to what it increasingly considers an untenable situation: to house one of the most wanted men in the world.
In November 2017, Assange hosted two supporters of the Catalan independence movement, whose secession from Spain plunged the country into its worst political crisis since its return to democracy. Assange said he supported the right to "self" "determination" and argued against "repression" from Madrid.
He was visited by Oriol Soler, a Catalan businessman and publisher, and Arnau Grinyó, an expert in online communication campaigns. Their meeting, reported by the Spanish press, took place just over a month after the one-sided independence referendum, and 13 days after the Spanish government responded to the unilateral proclamation of independence with the dismissal of the then Catalan President Carles' government, Puigdemont and takeover of the direct Control of the region.
Assange was a loud critic of Madrid's dealings with the Catalan crisis and described the independence movement as "the redefinition of the relationship between state and people", and "the most disciplined Gandhi project since Gandhi".
Assange's supporters expressly deny Catalan independence, but his tweets and videos on the subject have upset the Spanish government.
A Spanish diplomat told the Guardian newspaper that Spain "sent a message to the Ecuadorian authorities that Assange used social media to support the secessionist movement and to send messages" that contradict reality. "
"Spain and Ecuador are obviously countries that are a constant and fluid dialogue in which matters of mutual interest, including this issue, are raised and discussed," the diplomat said.
"Spain has briefed the Ecuadorian authorities on its concerns over Julian's activities on several occasions Assange has been involved in the Ecuadorian embassy in London during his time."
The source said that Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis had He also said that attempts had been made to "intervene, manipulate and influence what should be the natural democratic course of events in Catalonia".
In December, the President of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno, reminded Assange that he should refrain from intervening in Ecuadorian politics.
US intelligence agencies and Spanish authorities have separately stated that Russia is involved in their internal affairs. US authorities have accused WikiLeaks of working with Russian intelligence agencies to disrupt the US election by publishing hacked emails on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2016. Spanish officials have suggested that the social media news about the Catalan crisis in Russia has its source. 19659002] Soler and Grinyó refused to comment on their meeting with Assange. In a tweet four days after the embassy's visit Soler said the Catalan independence movement sympathized with Assange, as its leaders and activists "prison, exile, espionage, censorship, injustice, false news and financial blocks." The visit, he added, was transparent and legal.
In 2016, Assange met two members of the Podemos anti-austerity party, according to visitor reports received by the Guardian in association with Focus Ecuador magazine.
They were Pablo Bustinduy, spokesman on foreign affairs, and Miguel Ongil, a member of the Madrid regional assembly and a party supporter, transparency and anti-corruption expert. Podemos rejected a unilateral referendum on the secession, but said that in principle it would have backed an independence referendum between the Spanish and Catalan governments.
A Podemos spokesman told the Guardian, "Pablo Bustinduy visited Assange at the embassy during a trip to London to join the pro-Brexit campaign, accompanied by Miguel Ongil, a specialist in transparency and political participation.
"It was an informal visit that discussed the topics of protection of informants, freedom of expression and information in Europe and democracy in Europe. They also inquired about his legal situation.
This article was written in collaboration with Fernando Villavicencio and Cristina Solórzano Focus Ecuador