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Gag Law: Artists, Celebrities Stand By Julian Assange in Open Letter

© REUTERS / Peter Nicholls / WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017 - Sputnik International
On Tuesday, the Ecuadorian government cut off Assange’s communications with the outside world from its London embassy, where the founder of the whistleblowing WikiLeaks website has been living for nearly six years.

On Wednesday, the government of Ecuador said it had switched off outside communications of Assange, currently staying at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. According to Quito, the messages posted by Assange on his social networks pose a threat to Ecuador's relations with the United Kingdom, as well as with other states.

A number of human rights activists, journalists and artists have signed an open letter to Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno urging him to restore internet and telephone access to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who has been holed up at the country’s embassy in London.

"We call on the government of Ecuador to allow Julian Assange his right of freedom of speech… We ask that his basic human rights be respected as an Ecuadorian citizen and internationally protected person and that he not be silenced or expelled… We call on President Moreno to end the isolation of Julian Assange now," the letter published on the website of the Courage Foundation said.

The letter was signed by, among others, famous model, actress and animal rights campaigner Pamela Anderson, British composer and performer Brian Eno, British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, philosopher Slavoj Zizek, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, US film director Oliver Stone and linguist Noam Chomsky.

Ted Malloch - Sputnik International
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The Ecuadorian authorities have explained their action by stating that “Assange’s behavior, through his messages on social media, put at risk the good relations this country has with the UK, the rest of the EU and other nations.”

In a tweet on Monday, Julian Assange challenged London’s accusation that Russia was responsible for the nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter earlier this month.

Julian Assange has lived in the Ecuadorian embassy since he applied for asylum in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sex crimes that he denies. He fears that Sweden will hand him over to the US where he faces possible prosecution over WikiLeaks’ activities.

In 2010, Sweden began an investigation into rape allegedly committed by Assange. Since being granted political asylum by Ecuador in 2012, Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

In May 2017, Swedish prosecutors confirmed that rape charges against Assange had been dropped following a seven-year investigation, but the UK police said it would still have to arrest the WikiLeaks founder if he stepped out of the embassy.

READ MORE: ‘Speaks Truth’: Twitter Users Come to Assange’s Defense After Internet Shut Off

The UK warrant was issued in 2012, after Assange was granted political asylum by the Ecuadorian authorities, thereby breaching his bail conditions. Assange fears that he might be extradited to the United States over his whistleblowing organization's exposure of classified documents.

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