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Ecuador denounces WikiLeaks-linked plot against Moreno

Ecuadoran Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo at a press conference in Quito on April 11, 2019
Ecuadoran Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo at a press conference in Quito on April 11, 2019 AFP
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Quito (AFP)

Ecuador said Thursday that it had identified a WikiLeaks collaborator close to Julian Assange as being involved in a plot with two Russian hackers to destabilize President Lenin Moreno's government.

The extraordinary claim by Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo at a press conference in Quito came shortly after Moreno terminated Assange's near seven-year asylum at Ecuador's London embassy, allowing British police to arrest him.

"For several years now, one of the key members of this WikiLeaks organization and a person close to Mr Julian Assange has lived in Ecuador, and we have sufficient evidence that he has been collaborating with the destabilization attempts against the government," Romo said.

Ecuador recently filed a formal complaint to the UN special rapporteur on the right to privacy, Joseph Cannataci, accusing WikiLeaks of spreading private information linked to Moreno.

Photos, videos and private conversations appeared on portals such as Twitter and Facebook.

Moreno was forced to deny allegations of corruption which surfaced on the website inapapers.org, with the president claiming he knew who was responsible for the accusations.

Romo made no direct link between her claims and the recent complaint to the UN rapporteur, however.

The minister told reporters in Quito the WikiLeaks collaborator had worked closely with former foreign minister Ricardo Patino, who gave political asylum to Assange in 2012.

She also said the "two Russian hackers" live in Ecuador, and that their names and locations would be given to the prosecutor's office.

"We are not going to allow Ecuador to become a hacking center, and we cannot allow illegal activities to take place in the country, either to harm Ecuadoran citizens or those from other countries or any government."

Patino served as foreign minister under Rafael Correa, a socialist former president whose government granted Assange diplomatic asylum in 2012.

Correa on Thursday called Moreno "the greatest traitor in Ecuadoran and Latin American history" for allowing the arrest.

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