Julian Assange put through 'hell' at embassy, says former diplomat

Lisa Holland, senior correspondent

Julian Assange was always respectful but went through "hell" in the Ecuadorian embassy as officials tried to "break him down", according to a former senior diplomat.

Fidel Narvaez worked at the London embassy for six of the seven years the WikiLeaks figurehead lived there and says they became friends.

Assange was evicted a few weeks ago after a change of government in Ecuador.

Its new president, Lenin Moreno, publicly criticised the whistleblower and gave the impression the government ended his stay after growing tired of his alleged bad behaviour.

Speaking to Sky News, Fidel Narvaez disputed claims that Assange had assaulted guards, didn't clean up after himself, didn't take care of his pet cat and even smeared human excrement on the walls of the embassy.

He said: "Julian had a respectful relationship with staff, diplomats and administrative staff. I don't recall a single incident when he disrespected someone until I left in July 2018.

"He was 100% respectful. Clean and tidy? What is clean and tidy? Did he put the dishes in the dishwasher? Probably not at weekends. Is that a crime?"

Mr Narvaez worked at the embassy in Knightsbridge in central London between 2010 and 2018 as consul and first secretary.

Assange went into the embassy in June 2012 and did not leave until he was carted away by British police a few weeks ago with the agreement of the authorities in Ecuador.

Mr Narvaez said: "The last year was hell for Julian in that embassy.

"I was there the first months of the last year and I witnessed when Julian was told that he would no longer be allowed to have internet or access to the phone and wouldn't be able to have visitors.

"The strategy was very clear - break him down. The government didn't know how to end the asylum and face the catastrophic historical shame for doing that."

Mr Narvaez shared some of the photographs he had taken inside the embassy when he worked there, including the small kitchen area that Assange shared.

The embassy is comprised of a small set of rooms and Assange had his own bedroom and also access to a shared office and working space.

Mr Narvaez said Assange did not go to Sweden to face a rape inquiry because he feared being arrested and extradited to the United States by Britain or Sweden for exposing US government secrets via his WikiLeaks organisation.

He has denied the allegations made in Sweden.

Mr Narvaez said: "I consider him my friend. He's provided a big service to all of us.

"It doesn't matter if we like him or not. It doesn't matter if he puts the dishes in the dishwasher or looks after the cat well. I stand by Julian. I believe him."