Complying with a request by US authorities, Ecuadorian officials are preparing to hand over documents that are reportedly the entire legal defense against Julian Assange, compiled during the time he has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, according to WikiLeaks.
“On Monday Ecuador will perform a puppet show at the embassy of Ecuador in London for their masters in Washington, just in time to expand their extradition case before the UK deadline on 14 June,” WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said. “The Trump administration is inducing its allies to behave like it’s the Wild West.”
Assange’s lawyers are reportedly not permitted to be present during what is being called the “illegal seizure of his property.”
“The material includes two of his manuscripts, as well as his legal papers, medical records and electronic equipment. The seizure of his belongings violates laws that protect medical and legal confidentiality and press protections,” WikiLeaks said.
Ecuador officials also refused a request by UN special rapporteur on privacy, who requested permission to monitor Ecuador’s seizure of Assange’s property.
The US had previously asked Ecuador to share audiovisual material and additional documents, which had reportedly been collected during an internal spying operation against Assange, WikiLeaks said.
“It is extremely worrying that Ecuador has proceeded with the search and seizure of property, documents, information and other material belonging to the defense of Julian Assange, which Ecuador arbitrarily confiscated, so that these can be handed over to the agent of political persecution against him, the United States. It is an unprecedented attack on the rights of the defence, freedom of expression and access to information exposing massive human rights abuses and corruption. We call on international protection institutions to intervene to put a stop to this persecution,” said Baltasar Garzón, international legal coordinator for the defense of Assange and WikiLeaks.
Though Ecuador is obviously not a part of the EU, “if arguing that because Assange is an EU resident and therefore subject to the protections of GDPR, Article 23 makes a pretty strong case that those protections become restricted if revealing that data was a matter of national defense or if some other form of legal matter, either criminal or civil, is involved,” said Nathan Wenzler, senior director of cybersecurity at Moss Adams.
“While I’m not a lawyer, it seems likely that all nations involved would have a good chance of demonstrating some sort of legal action involved here and thus, make this action a non-event under the provisions of GDPR. Morally, there’s a whole other argument here that could (and should, in my opinion) be had. However, I’m not sure there’s much that can or will be done under GDPR in this case.”