Free Speech

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
ecuador, free press, julian assange, wikileaks

Ecuador Looks To Ban Wikileaks-like Offerings, Despite 'Housing' Assange

from the be-careful-who-your-friends-are dept

We had always pointed out that Ecuador was a somewhat odd choice for Julian Assange to seek asylum with, given that the country doesn't have a great track record on press freedoms. And some recent actions have suggested that, even as Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the relationship between Assange and Ecuador is strained. Given that, perhaps it's no surprise that Ecuador is now contemplating a new bill that would criminalize publishing classified documents, which would certainly turn a significant part of Wikileaks into a criminal operation:
Pablo Romero, the director of Ecuador’s intelligence agency SENAIN, asked the Justice Committee of Ecuador’s National Assembly on August 8 to draft legislation that would “criminalize the disclosure of confidential information of the State” and require would-be publishers to seek government approval before publication. Romero gave as an example the hypothetical publication of special agents’ salaries.

The bill would outlaw the publication of classified documents even if they had previously been published abroad.
That, of course, is a pretty big attack on press freedoms, which does seem slightly ironic. I know that people will likely use this to attack Assange, just as they attack Ed Snowden for ending up in Russia -- but in both cases that seems like misplaced anger. The anger should be towards countries putting in place such awful policies. The fact that Assange has ended up with Ecuador and Snowden with Russia has a lot more to do with the political realities of people trying to stay away from an over-aggressive American government that seems hell bent on putting both men in prison for as long as possible. Given that reality -- combined with things like the US pulling Snowden's passport -- they really had little choice. Yes, it would be great if believers in press freedom could go somewhere that actually respected press freedom, but there are, tragically, very few places that qualify these days -- and when the country that sets itself up as the biggest protector of press freedoms, the United States, is trampling those freedoms to try to get at these two guys, their options are exceptionally limited.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    Assange chose Ecuador out of a matter of convenience and knowing full well that the U.S. and Ecuador don't see eye to eye.

    I remember reading how Assange praised Correa, someone who is not know for humanitarian gestures to his own people in Ecuador and is further eroding his own peoples freedoms.

    The mere fact that Correa told the press he gave Assange asylum on " Humanitarian ground is irony at it's best, most know this was more a political manoeuver at best ahead of Ecuador elections where Correa was facing the various vocal opponents of his clamping down on the Ecuador peoples freedoms.

    How long the happy little show Assange and Correa have going on is going to last who knows. If Correa ever turned on Assange and handed him over to the U.S. it wouldn't be illegal as the U.S. and Ecuador have a an extradition treaty with one another.

    Which really makes me wonder why Assange picked Ecuador in the first place? Wouldn't a non extradition treaty country have been better?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Jesse (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 1:27pm

    That Snowden and Assange had to go to oppressive countries such as Russia and Ecuador to escape despotism is not a commentary on those people, rather a commentary on the places from which they fled.

    In other words, in this case, these oppressive regimes are a safe haven from the US. What does that tell you about the US?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    HappyBlogFriend (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 1:28pm

    This should come as no surprise to anyone. All governments resist transparency. They will tolerate other country's whistleblowers, but not their own.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Wally (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 3:37pm


    Snowden is not have to remember that nothing Snowden has leaked should have been classified in the first place. Assange and Snowden are two different stories. Assange never worked for the agencies he leaked info on, and is not a whistleblower, where as Snowden has only leaked information that should not be classified at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 4:06pm

    Anyone else notice that SENAIN is an anagram of INSANE?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 4:06pm

    all countries appear to be hatching similar laws. it appears to me therefore that all countries have been/are doing the same thing to their citizens as well as to as many in other countries as possible. the way things look to be heading, not a single, ordinary person is going to have the slightest bit of privacy or freedom. everywhere is going to want to know everything about everyone every single second. what the hell have those people that have started this degrading of society got in mind? what are they thinking of? why do they imagine that everyone is someone's enemy and must be silenced? it doesn't make sense to me

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Wally (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 4:56pm


    Well think of all the information Assange is willing to give the public access to that may or may not be classified and compare that to Snowden who is actively leaking information that should not be classified. Assange's run was from accusations charges of rape in Sweden...Snowden ran because he would have been killed on sight if spotted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Jesse (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 6:43pm

    Re: Re:

    Right. But neither person deserves persecution, hence the lumping of the two.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Ninja (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 4:22am

    It's not surprising given Ecuador past actions and it's on par with quite a few South American countries with very few exceptions (and even the exceptions like Brazil or Chile have their own issues in the freedom of speech area). What is unfortunate is that Both Snowden and Assange were forced into this situation as the article says itself. One must ask if Snowden truly feels safe in Russia given all the censorship and bad laws that are already in place there. Same for Assange or why would he be running for the Australian Senate (was it?)? If he gets a seat he gets diplomatic immunity. And despite what you may think of his personality I'd rather have 100 Assanges than one Obama, Rogers, Cameron etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Omishinji, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 11:23pm

    All ready known

    Assange is not going to say anything about it. There have always been genuine concerns about Ecuador's record.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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