Julian Assange (Photo: Reuters)
- Ecuador spent $5 million to protect Julian Assange
- The operation had approval of former president Rafael Correa
- Ecuador has recently given Assange its citizenship
Ecuador, according to media reports, spent millions of dollars on an operation to protect and support WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its central London embassy. The country spent a massive security and surveillance network.
The intelligence program, which began in 2012 when Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy, was initially called “Operation Guest” but was later changed to “Operation Hotel”.
A Guardian report said that Ecuador employed an international security company and undercover agents to monitor Assange’s visitors and embassy staff.
A secret intelligence budget of at least five million dollars was arranged to protect the high-profile fugitive from guests that visited him which included individuals linked to the Kremlin, hackers, activists, lawyers and journalists.
From activities in the embassy to Assange’s daily moods and interactions with the staff and visitors, everything was filmed and monitored.
It was also revealed that the operation had the approval of the then Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. In fact, after the details of the operation were made public, Rafael Correa defended the spy operation saying the security measures were “routine and modest”.
Correa went on to criticise the current Ecuadorian government for not allowing Julian Assange to receive visitors. He called this move a form of “torture” and a violation of the country’s duty to protect WikiLeaks founder’s wellbeing and safety.
After the details of the operation were made public, a debate about the public spending on Assange was stirred on social media. However, no the Ecuadorian government has made no comment on the claims.
To avoid extradition to Sweden, Julian Assange had sought asylum with Ecuador as he was accused of multiple sexual assaults in the Scandinavian nation. It was only recently that Assange was granted Ecuador’s citizenship. However, since March 2018, his internet access has been cut off because apparently, his social media posts had ‘threatened Ecuador’s relationship with the UK and other countries’.