How Ecuador's shifting politics led to Julian Assange's arrest, and a snarky tweet from the ex-president

By Haley Ott

/ CBS News

Julian Assange arrested in London

London — The former President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, sharply criticized the country's current president on Thursday for stripping WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of asylum status and allowing him to be arrested by U.K. police. "The greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history, Lenin Moreno, allowed the British police to enter our embassy in London to arrest Assange," Correa tweeted.

"Moreno is a corrupt man, but what he has done is a crime that humanity will never forget," the former leader said.

Assange had been living in Ecuador's embassy in London since he was granted asylum by Correa in 2012.

The greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history, Lenin Moreno, allowed the British police to enter our embassy in London to arrest Assange.
Moreno is a corrupt man, but what he has done is a crime that humanity will never forget. https://t.co/XhT51MA6c6

— Rafael Correa (@MashiRafael) April 11, 2019

"Lenin Moreno was Correa's candidate," Richard Lapper, Associate Fellow at Chatham House's U.S. and the Americas Programme, told CBS News of the now-rivals. The left-wing leader was unable to run in Ecuador's 2017 elections because of the country's term limits, so he campaigned for Moreno, who was his one-time vice president.

Trending News

"Correa expected Moreno to follow very similar policies to him. That hasn't happened. Lenin Moreno has pursued a more social democratic, more centrist political line," Lapper said.

As tensions grew in Ecuador between Correa and Moreno supporters over the shift, a large trove of hacked documents, dubbed the "INA Papers," was leaked on the internet. It included material belonging to Moreno which some people believe shows he profited from corrupt business dealings. WikiLeaks tweeted a link to the papers, but denied having anything to do with their publication, the Daily Beast reported.

On Thursday, Correa tweeted: "Julian Assange was expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy for exposing Pres. Lenin Moreno's corruption in the #INAPapers." His tweet included bank details that he alleged were a secret account used by Moreno for money laundering.

Julian Assange was expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy for exposing Pres. Lenin Moreno’s corruption in the #INAPapers
Moreno’s secret account (money laundering):
100-4-1071378
Balboa Bank Panamá. pic.twitter.com/ntDNUh5vcv

— Rafael Correa (@MashiRafael) April 11, 2019

Earlier in the day, Moreno tweeted a video statement announcing that the country would be revoking Assange's asylum status.

"Ours is a government respectful of the principles of international law, and of the institution of the right of asylum. Granting or withdrawing asylum is a sovereign right of the Ecuadorian state, according to international law," Moreno said in the prerecorded message.

Ecuador decidió soberanamente retirar el asilo diplomático a Julian Assange por violar reiteradamente convenciones internacionales y protocolo de convivencia. #EcuadorSoberano pic.twitter.com/V02pvvtPY0

— Lenín Moreno (@Lenin) April 11, 2019

"Today, I announce that the discourteous and aggressive behavior of Mr. Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declarations of its allied organization, against Ecuador, and especially, the transgression of international treaties have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable," he said.

"Ecuador is pursuing a more pro-Western foreign policy than it did under Correa," Lapper told CBS News. "They've sought to diversify their trade and investment relations, and so (that) entails being more pragmatic, basically, in their policies."

"I think there are very good reasons for Ecuador to pursue the kind of approach it's pursuing now, especially when you look over the border in Venezuela and see what an absolute humanitarian disaster 'Chavismo' has created there," explained Lapper. "Moreno, like some of the other governments in Latin America, is taking his distance from that."

First published on April 12, 2019 / 4:07 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

New York Post cover features Ilhan Omar quote and 9/11 terror attack

Conservatives have been criticizing the U.S. representative from Minnesota for saying, in part, "some people did something" on Sept. 11

4H ago

New York Democrats lead effort for Trump's state tax returns

"We have Donald Trump's tax returns here in the state of New York and we can provide them to Congress if the IRS, if the Treasury Department won't," N.Y. state Sen. Brad Hoylman told CBS News

8H ago

Ohio fetal heartbeat abortion ban signed into law

Ohio joins five other states that have passed such restrictive abortion measures; the ACLU of Ohio said it was preparing a constitutional challenge to the law

11H ago

Trump meets with WWII veterans

President Trump met with World War II veterans in the Oval Office on Thursday. To one 103-year-old, Mr. Trump joked that "he doesn't look a day over 90."

11H ago 11:18

Trump says he knows "nothing" about WikiLeaks despite 2016 praise

"I know nothing really about them. It's not my deal in life," the president said of the group he once praised

13H ago

How a shift in Ecuador's politics led to Julian Assange's arrest

"Moreno is a corrupt man, but what he has done is a crime that humanity will never forget," ex-President Rafael Correa tweeted at his successor

2M ago

Assange facing possible extradition

After nearly seven years, Julian Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and arrested. Now he's facing possible extradition to the U.S. Paula Reid reports.

8H ago 03:49

Russia calls for Kremlin critic arrest

Russia has asked Interpol for a seventh time to arrest outspoken Kremlin critic Bill Browder. Browder has repeatedly spoken out about abuses by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his regime, and he joined CBSN to explain why he thinks it's so important to do so.

11H ago 06:41

Israeli spacecraft fails in attempted moon landing

Israel's privately-funded Beresheet lander aimed to be the first non-superpower spacecraft to land on the moon

7H ago

Ex-pope on sex abuse scandal, "homosexual cliques" in seminaries

Retired Pope Benedict XVI also claims in essay "homosexual cliques" once existed in seminaries

15H ago

Alex Jones appears on Logan Paul's podcast

It may seem like an unlikely pairing, but InfoWars' Alex Jones and YouTuber Logan Paul have a lot in common

5H ago

Chicago sues Jussie Smollett for police investigation costs

In March, the city ordered Smollett to repay the $130,000​ but Smollett has refused

8H ago

Dominic West on new "Les Mis" adaptation, equal pay and his Irish castle

"The Affair" star is taking on the role of Jean Valjean in a new adaptation of the classic novel "Les Misérables"

13H ago

Nipsey Hussle "Celebration of Life" memorial service held – live updates

Family and friends paid tribute to the late rapper and community activist who worked to empower his South Central neighborhood

3H ago

Dominic West on new "Les Mis" adaptation

Actor Dominic West earned a Golden Globe nomination for playing a cheating husband who complicates his family’s life in "The Affair" on Showtime, a division of CBS. Now he is taking the role of Jean Valjean in a new adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel, "Les Misérables." West joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss the Masterpiece series on PBS.

12H ago 04:49

Technology

Amazon workers listening to Alexa recordings

According to a new report, Amazon employes workers who listen to voice recordings captured by the Echo device in people's homes. Some are allegedly recorded when owners didn't know Alexa was eavesdropping. Don Dahler reports.

8H ago 01:52

Uber files for what could be the biggest IPO in years

Ride-sharing company's mega-public offering could put the company's value at around $100 billion

22H ago

Senate panel examines how to crack down on robocalls

Committee chair John Thune said enforcement and prosecution is "necessary and appropriate" for those who knowingly flout laws

13H ago

Congress considers criminal penalties for robocalls

Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, said enforcement and prosecution is "necessary and appropriate" for those who knowingly flout laws on illegal spam calls.

12H ago 01:41

Amazon workers are listening to what you tell Alexa

Thousands of the company's employees listen to customer voice recordings, ostensibly to build a better "smart" speaker

15H ago

Science

Researchers reveal changes to astronaut's body

Retired astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent 340 days in space during an extended stay aboard the International Space Station in 2015-16, did not suffer any major long-term health effects that might raise warning signs for future long-duration flights, scientists reported Thursday. CBS News space consultant Bill Harwood joins CBSN with details.

6H ago 01:08

Israeli spacecraft fails to land on moon

CBS News space consultant Bill Harwood speaks to CBSN about the failed moon landing and Thursday's other headlines: SpaceX's second launch of their Falcon Heavy rocket and NASA's report that astronaut Scott Kelly experienced biological changes during his year-long orbit in space.

6H ago 05:36

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket thunders into space

The second flight of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is carrying a Saudi communications satellite into orbit

6H ago

Meet the 29-year-old who helped create the black hole image

Dr. Katie Bouman led the creation of a new algorithm to produce the first-ever image of a black hole

10H ago

Israel fails to land spacecraft on the moon

An Israeli spacecraft has failed in its attempt to make history as the first privately funded lunar mission. The SpaceIL spacecraft lost contact with Earth late Thursday, just moments before it was to land on the moon, and scientists declared the mission a failure. Watch their announcement here.

11H ago 01:05

Ohio fetal heartbeat abortion ban signed into law

Ohio joins five other states that have passed such restrictive abortion measures; the ACLU of Ohio said it was preparing a constitutional challenge to the law

11H ago

Astronaut twins study reveals impact of space travel

Studies of twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly, one in space and one on the ground, finds no major obstacles to long-term space missions

7H ago

New York measles outbreak spreads to more counties

Measles has spread to two more counties following the spike in infections in Rockland County and the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn

15H ago

Insulin makers grilled on price surges

Pressure from Congress appears to be spurring the pharmaceutical industry to lower prescription drug prices for some patients. One of the main producers of insulin, Sanofi, said it will cap the cost of the life-saving drug for diabetics. Some could save thousands of dollars a year. Anna Werner reports.

12H ago 03:24

Patients rationing insulin amid rising prices

Drug industry executives faced tough questions Wednesday from Congress over the rising cost of insulin. It's nearly doubled in the last five years, forcing some diabetics to ration the drug. Anna Werner reports.

Apr 10 02:10

MoneyWatch

Phone scam targeting Social Security numbers

The Federal Trade Commission is warning of a new nationwide phone scam. Tens of thousands have been tricked into giving out their Social Security numbers, which thieves use to take out loans and open credit cards. Anna Werner reports.

8H ago 02:17

Social Security number phone scam costing victims millions: FTC

The FTC said an old scam using Social Security numbers took in $17 million at its peak — and this one's tab is already $19 million

9H ago

Sacramento teachers on strike

Teachers in Sacramento went on strike Thursday for the first time in 30 years. They say the school district is backtracking on promises of better pay and smaller classes. Nikki Battiste reports.

7H ago 03:30

Uber files for what could be the biggest IPO in years

Ride-sharing company's mega-public offering could put the company's value at around $100 billion

22H ago

Natural disasters' long-term financial impacts

Damage from natural disasters may cause financial harm for years, and widen inequality.

9H ago 01:19

Alabama, running out of time, halts execution of pastor's killer

Awaiting word from U.S Supreme Court on challenge by condemned inmate, state officials put things on hold citing deadline and time needed to proceed

1H ago

Chicago sues Jussie Smollett for police investigation costs

In March, the city ordered Smollett to repay the $130,000​ but Smollett has refused

8H ago

Louisiana church fire suspect arrested

The son of a deputy was charged for allegedly burning three historically black churches in Louisiana over a period of 10 days. Authorities are trying to determine if he was motivated by hate. Janet Shamlian reports.

8H ago 02:02

Assange facing possible extradition

After nearly seven years, Julian Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and arrested. Now he's facing possible extradition to the U.S. Paula Reid reports.

8H ago 03:49

Death penalty in "Golden State Killer" case renews debate

Prosecutors and families of murder victims denounced the California governor's death penalty moratorium

10H ago

Space

Researchers reveal changes to astronaut's body

Retired astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent 340 days in space during an extended stay aboard the International Space Station in 2015-16, did not suffer any major long-term health effects that might raise warning signs for future long-duration flights, scientists reported Thursday. CBS News space consultant Bill Harwood joins CBSN with details.

6H ago 01:08

Israeli spacecraft fails to land on moon

CBS News space consultant Bill Harwood speaks to CBSN about the failed moon landing and Thursday's other headlines: SpaceX's second launch of their Falcon Heavy rocket and NASA's report that astronaut Scott Kelly experienced biological changes during his year-long orbit in space.

6H ago 05:36

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket thunders into space

The second flight of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is carrying a Saudi communications satellite into orbit

6H ago

Meet the 29-year-old who helped create the black hole image

Dr. Katie Bouman led the creation of a new algorithm to produce the first-ever image of a black hole

10H ago

Israel fails to land spacecraft on the moon

An Israeli spacecraft has failed in its attempt to make history as the first privately funded lunar mission. The SpaceIL spacecraft lost contact with Earth late Thursday, just moments before it was to land on the moon, and scientists declared the mission a failure. Watch their announcement here.

11H ago 01:05

The folk art of Bill Traylor

Born into slavery, the self-taught painter who began his artistic life in his 80s is the focus of a retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Apr 7 24 photos

America's surprising food recalls

What's in your fridge? Just maybe salmonella, E. coli – and a dead bat?

Apr 5 36 photos

The highest-paid U.S. athletes in 2019, ranked

Here's the definitive list of the athletes who earn the most money in the NBA, NFL and MLB

Apr 2 49 photos

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream soon

Mar 26 35 photos

Anti-Brexit march: Hundreds of thousands in London demand new vote

EU supporters hold a "People's Vote" march demanding a new referendum, as Prime Minister Theresa May faces increasing pressure to resign

Mar 23 22 photos

Popular

Payroll system can deliver big benefits

For a small business, payroll can be the biggest expense and also the greatest liability. IRC Wealth Strategies CEO David Ragland joined CBSN to discuss how to best set up payroll as well as how to classify employees and keep accurate financial records.

12H ago 04:07

Today's top political headlines

President Trump is doubling down on claims made by Attorney General William Bar that the FBI spied on his 2016 campaign. Bloomberg chief Washington correspondent, Kevin Cirilli, joins CBSN to discuss the White House's reaction and the rest of the day's top political headlines.

4H ago 09:45

New 2020 poll released

Former Vice President Joe Biden is topping the 2020 Democratic presidential field in Iowa, according to a new Monmouth University poll released Thursday. CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns and NPR's Scott Detrow join CBSN's "Red and Blue" to discuss the latest 2020 news.

4H ago 13:46

Border business: Inside immigration

CBSN Originals presents a documentary special about the cottage industry that's built up across Central America to get migrants to the U.S. border.

Mar 29 38:03

Julian Assange arrested in London

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested on Thursday in London from the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he had been living since 2010. He says he will fight extradition to the United States. CBS News Washington correspondent Paula Reid joins CBSN to discuss what we can expect from U.S. prosecutors and Assange's extradition trial.

5H ago 05:00