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'Pathological hatred': Ecuador's Moreno sold 'Assange's head' to the US – ex-president Correa to RT

Former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa explained to RT why he calls his successor Lenin Moreno the "worst traitor" in the country's history for handing over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to British authorities.

Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London by British police on Thursday after Moreno revoked political asylum. The published and journalist spent almost seven years in the building after being welcomed there by Correa. UK law enforcement arrested him for skipping bail and under a previously secret US indictment – a development that Assange predicted and stated as his reason for going into the embassy in the first place.

Also on rt.com Who is Lenin Moreno and why did he hand Assange over to British police?

Correa spoke to RT Spanish to explain why he publicly branded Moreno the "greatest traitor in Ecuadorian history." The former president says his successor is no better than the disciple Judas Iscariot or Ephialtes of Trachis, the man accused of betraying Greek forces defending the pass of Thermopylae from invading Persians.

Unconstitutional deal with the US

"It was not Rafael Correa, who gave asylum to Julian Assange. It was the state of Ecuador. And the state of Ecuador had to protect the person it pledged to protect according to international law and its national pride. Instead they gave him up, allowed the British police to enter our embassy," he said.

He added that the move also violated the constitution of Ecuador, since Assange is now a citizen of the Latin American country and is owed protection accordingly. "This is unheard of. These actions cannot leave one not outraged," he said.

Correa said Moreno basically sold "Assange's head" to the Americans. The US wants to prosecute Assange for allegedly conspiring with former US Army soldier Chelsea Manning in her leaking of classified US documents to WikiLeaks.

Revenge for allegedly publishing documents incriminating Moreno

Moreno's decision was partially motivated by various benefits Ecuador and the president personally got in return, Correa believes. But another motive was revenge on WikiLeaks, he told RT. Moreno believes that the site was responsible for publication of explosive documents, which implicate him and his family members in corruption.

"Paul Manafort, the head of the Trump presidential campaign, visited Ecuador on May 30, 2017, weeks after Moreno took the office of the president. And even then Moreno offered to hand out Assange in exchange for financial enrichment from the US," Correa said.

Also on rt.com Manafort talked to Ecuador’s president on getting rid of Assange – report

"In 2018, [US Vice President] Mike Pence visited Ecuador, and he and Moreno agreed on three things. Isolate Venezuela, which Moreno did with great enthusiasm. Drop a case against Chevron, which he gladly did as well. And hand over Assange," the ex-president said. "WikiLeaks publishing documents about [Moreno's] blatant corruption was the latest straw."

The corruption case Correa referred to is dubbed "INA Papers" after the name of an offshore company, which was allegedly used by the incumbent president for corrupt dealings. Materials exposing the link between the firm owned by the president's brother and various shady operations were leaked in February and triggered a congressional probe in Ecuador. WikiLeaks denies being behind the leak, but Moreno insists otherwise.

"Moreno knows that he and his family will go to prison for corruption and money laundering. So before he leaves, he wants to harm as many people as possible, including Julian Assange," Correa alleged. "He decided to ruin another person before going to prison. He is moved by pathological hatred and in his desire to take revenge, that's why he gave out Assange to the British police."

Moreno tried to break Assange and make him leave

Correa added that Moreno's government previously tried and failed to break Assange, hoping to get rid of him in a less explicit way.

"They tried to make him leave the embassy voluntarily with this ruthless isolation and harsh rules. They couldn't make him. They hope he would get ill and require treatment at a hospital so that he could be arrested there. And again they failed," he said.

Also on rt.com Assange critics and ‘journalists’ having field day on Twitter after whistleblower’s arrest

Assange was kept incommunicado since March last year, with only his legal council allowed to meet him. Ecuador said the isolation was needed because the guest of the embassy was violating rules and meddling in international politics in a way detrimental to Ecuador's interests.

When Assange was evicted by force from the embassy, he looked noticeably pale, possibly corroborating earlier reports that his health deteriorated during years of confinement. A UN panel of experts ruled in 2016 that his stay at the embassy amounted to arbitrary detention by the British authorities.

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