December 12, 2018 / 9:22 PM / 8 months ago

Wikileaks' Assange undergoes medical tests at Ecuador's urging

QUITO (Reuters) - Wikileaks founder Julian Assange received a series of medical exams, Ecuador’s top attorney said on Wednesday, in line with a new set of rules for his asylum at the Andean country’s London embassy that prompted him to sue the government.

FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Assange first took asylum in the embassy in 2012, but his relationship with Ecuador has grown increasingly tense, with President Lenin Moreno saying he does not like his presence in the embassy.

The government in October imposed new rules requiring him to receive routine medical exams, following concerns he was not getting the medical attention he needed. The rules also ordered Assange to pay his medical and phone bills and clean up after his pet cat.

Inigo Salvador told reporters Ecuador did not have access to results of the tests, which were conducted by doctors Assange trusted, out of respect for his privacy. But he said Assange, who has sued Ecuador arguing that the new rules violate his rights, appeared coherent and lucid to him.

On Wednesday, Assange appeared via videoconference in an Ecuadorean court to appeal a previous ruling that had upheld the new rules. Assange is concerned that Ecuador is seeking to end his asylum and extradite him to the United States, but Ecuador has said the United Kingdom told it he would not be extradited. [nL1N1YB1D7]

U.S. officials have acknowledged that federal prosecutors have been conducting a lengthy criminal probe into Assange and Wikileaks.[nL2N1XR04V] Wikileaks published U.S. diplomatic and military secrets when Assange ran the operation.

A lawyer for Assange said he did not know the results of the medical tests, and called on Ecuador to produce documentation proving that the UK would not extradite him to any country where his life was at risk.

“We insist that they show us the letter from the United Kingdom,” said the lawyer, Carlos Poveda. “The protocol is meant to set the rules of his living situation, but it seems more like a penitentiary regime.”

Assange initially took asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation.

That investigation was later dropped. The United Kingdom says he will be arrested for skipping bail if he leaves the embassy, but that his jail time will not exceed six months.

Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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