Julian Assange, the embattled WikiLeaks founder has been stripped of his Ecuadorian citizenship over claims of unpaid fees and false documents.
According to the AP, Assange has been formally notified by Ecuador that he is no longer a citizen of the country, citing inconsistencies, different signatures, unpaid fees, and possibly altered documents in his naturalization application.
Authorities said it was standard practice to revoke citizenship where it had been received fraudulently, with false documents, or through concealing relevant facts.
Assange’s lawyer, Carlos Poveda, told the media outlet that the decision by Ecuador had been made without due process and that Assange, Australian by birth and currently in U.K jail, would not be allowed to appear in the case.
“On the date (Assange) was cited he was deprived of his liberty and with a health crisis inside the deprivation of liberty center where he was being held,” Poveda told the news wire, adding that he planned on appealing to decision and would seek clarification.
“More than the importance of nationality, it is a matter of respecting rights and following due process in withdrawing nationality,” Poveda added.
Assange, 50, was granted Ecuadorian citizenship in 2018 as part of an attempt by then-Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno to get him out of the country’s embassy in London, where he resided for seven years to avoid arrest, according to reports.
Speaking to the AP, Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry said the decision, made by the Pichincha Court for Contentious Administrative Matters, had been made “independently and followed due process in a case that took place during the previous government and that was raised by the same previous government.”
US prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents, Daily Mail reported.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
The Biden administration is currently pursuing efforts to have Assange extradited to the U.S to face charges.
A British court earlier this month allowed the U.S. to appeal a lower court’s decision against allowing Assange to be extradited to the U.S.