Assange sues Ecuador for violating 'fundamental rights'

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The move follows a deterioration in relations between the Ecuadorian government and the Wikileaks founder, who was granted refuge at Ecuador's London embassy in 2012 while on bail in the United Kingdom over sexual assault allegations against him in Sweden.

Lawyers for the Wikileaks founder said yesterday that they would begin legal action against Ecuador over an alleged violation of Mr Assange's "fundamental rights and freedoms".

Assange's lawyer Baltasar Garzon said the demands regarding the cat are "denigrating". The WikiLeaks founder sought the protection of Ecuador in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced rape allegations, or the U.S., where he could be punished for publishing secret government documents.

It said Ecuador's government had refused to allow a visit by Human Rights Watch's general counsel Dinah PoKempner and stopped several meetings with Assange's lawyers.

Earlier this year, Ecuador laid out a stringent new set of house rules for Assange, warning him to avoid online comments about political issues - and ordering him to clean his bathroom and take better care of his cat or risk losing his pet.

It added that his access to the outside world had been "summarily cut off".

However, the journalist fears leaving the embassy would lead to his extradition to the US. The access was partially restored on October 14.

In a statement, Wikileaks said: "Ecuador's measures against Julian Assange have been widely condemned by the human rights community".

Assange's lawyers are also challenging the legality of Ecuador's "special protocol", which it said makes his political asylum "contingent on censoring his freedom of opinion, speech and association".

Why is he living in the embassy?

The UK's Supreme Court ruled in May 2012 that he should be extradited to the country to face two separate allegations - one of rape and one of molestation.

The protocol, according to Wikileaks, also states that the Ecuadorian Embassy can seize the property of Assange and his visitors and hand it over to British authorities without a warrant.