Ecuador does not plan to intervene with the British government on behalf of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in talks over his situation as an asylee in the South American country’s London embassy, Ecuador’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Foreign Minister José Valencia said in an interview with Reuters that Ecuador’s only responsibility was looking after Assange’s wellbeing, after the Australian national sued the country over new conditions placed on his asylum in the London embassy.
“Ecuador has no responsibility to take any further steps,” Valencia said. “We are not Mr. Assange’s lawyers, nor are we representatives of the British government. This is a matter to be resolved between Assange and Great Britain.”
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment after normal business hours.
Greg Barns, an Australian lawyer advising Assange, said in an email that “developments in the case in recent times” showed the need for Australia’s government to intervene to assist “one of its citizens who faces real danger.”
This position marks a departure from Ecuador’s previous practice of maintaining dialogue with British authorities over Assange’s situation since granting him asylum in 2012, when he took refuge in Ecuador’s London Embassy after British courts ordered his extradition to Sweden to face questioning in a sexual molestation case.
That case has since been dropped, but friends and supporters have said that Assange now fears he could be arrested and eventually extradited to the United States if he leaves the embassy.
WikiLeaks, which published U.S. diplomatic and military secrets when Assange ran the operation, faces a U.S. grand jury investigation.
Valencia said he was “frustrated” by Assange’s decision to file suit in an Ecuadorean court last week over new terms of his asylum, which required him to pay for medical bills and telephone calls and to clean up after his pet cat.
“There is no obligation in international agreements for Ecuador to pay for things like Mr. Assange’s laundry,” he said.
Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno has said that asylum is not meant to be eternal, but he has expressed concern about the possibility that Assange may be extradited to the United States. Valencia said on Tuesday that he has not discussed Assange’s situation with the United States’ government.
Last December, Ecuador granted Assange Ecuadorean citizenship and sought to name him as a member of the country’s diplomatic mission in Britain and Russia, which could have assured him safe passage to leave the embassy. Britain denied the request.
Before his links to the world was cut by his Ecuadorian hosts, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gave an interview on how technological advances are changing humankind. He said global surveillance will soon be totally unavoidable.
The interview was provided to RT by organizers of the World Ethical Data Forum in Barcelona. Assange, who is currently stranded in the Ecuadorean embassy in London with no outside communication except with his legal team, has a pretty grim outlook on where humanity is going. He says it will soon be impossible for any human being to not be included into global databases collected by governments and state-like entities.
This generation being born now… is the last free generation. You are born and either immediately or within say a year you are known globally. Your identity in one form or another –coming as a result of your idiotic parents plastering your name and photos all over Facebook or as a result of insurance applications or passport applications– is known to all major world powers.
“A small child now in some sense has to negotiate its relationship with all the major world powers… It puts us in a very different position. Very few technically capable people are able to live apart, to choose to live apart, to choose to go their own way,” he added. “It smells a bit like totalitarianism – in some way.”
The capacity to collect and process information about people has been growing exponentially and will continue to grow fast, he stated. With advancements in applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) to big data, the next logical step is coming.
Look at what Google and Baidu and Tencent and Amazon and Facebook are doing. They are basically open-cut harvesting the knowledge of humankind as we express it, when we communicate with each other… This classical model, which people in academia call ‘surveillance capitalism’… has changed now.
It’s a really very important and severe economic change. Which is to take the surveillance capitalism model and transform it instead into a model that does not yet have a name, an ‘AI model’. Which is to use this vast reservoir to train Artificial Intelligences of different kinds. This would replace not only intermediary sectors –most things you do on the internet is in a sense more efficient intermediation– but to take over the transport sector, or create whole new sectors.
Assange also predicted that the scale of hostile activities through cyberspace will see a breakout point as soon as AI is trained to sufficiently automate hacking attacks.
“There is no border [online]. It’s 220 milliseconds from New York to Nairobi. Why would there ever be peace in such a scenario?” he said. “[Entities online] are creating their own borders using cryptography. But the size of the attack surface for any decent-sized organization, the number of people, different types of software and hardware it has to pull inside itself means that it is very hard to establish.
I don’t think it’s really possible to come up with borders that are predictable enough and stable enough to eliminate conflict. Therefore, there will be more conflict.
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW BELOW:
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
October 24th, 2018