Assange says Ecuador is trying to hand him over to US

Assange says Ecuador is trying to hand him over to US
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Monday that he believes the Ecuadorean government is preparing to end his asylum at its embassy in London and hand him over the U.S.

Assange pointed to new rules the embassy has imposed upon him, which he must follow in order to have internet access, as a sign that he will soon be out of the embassy, Reuters reports.

The rules require Assange to do a variety of things including pay for medical bills and phone calls, stay away from commenting on controversial topics, and clean up after his pet cat.

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Assange spoke from the embassy during a teleconference at the first hearing of a lawsuit his legal team launched against the Ecuadorean government, which challenges the new rules.

As Assange said that the Ecuadorean government is preparing to toss him, the country's top government attorney, Iñigo Salvador, interrupted to warn him not to make political statements during the teleconference, according to Reuters.

Court officials told reporters they could not record any of the comments made during the hearing.

Salvador did not directly respond to Assange's assertion, Reuters reports, but told reporters last week that Assange is welcome to remain in the embassy so long as he abides by the new rules.

Salvador also said last week that the United Kingdom has stated Assange will not be extradited if he leaves the embassy, where he has resided since 2012.

Assange fled to the embassy after UK courts ordered he be extradited to Sweden to be questioned in a sexual assault case, which has since been dropped.

Still, WikiLeaks faces a U.S. grand jury investigation for publishing U.S. diplomatic and classified military information under Assange's leadership.

Ecuador's Foreign Minister José Valencia also told Reuters last week that the government will no longer intervene on Assange's behalf.

He told the news agency that Ecuador is "frustrated" by Assange's lawsuit over the new rules.