Prior to the arrest of Julian Assange last Thursday, there had been some speculation that Ecuador would use the release of the INA Papers as a pretext to end his asylum. While the media has largely ignored the papers, Ecuadorian officials have seemingly acknowledged their release as part of the reason for Assange’s expulsion, using the coded phrase “violating the ‘conditions’ of his asylum”.
But what exactly are the INA Papers and why exactly are Ecuador so outraged?
Released in between February and March, the INA Papers are a leak of information from Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno’s Whatsapp, Telegram and Gmail accounts that show evidence of extensive corruption and a lavish lifestyle, including his possession of secret bank accounts.
Ecuadorian officials fingered Julian Assange for the leak, suggesting an effort between Wikileaks, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and former Ecuadorian socialist President Rafael Correa to topple the Moreno regime.
Shortly after, Moreno announced that Assange had “violated the ‘conditions’ of his asylum” and that action would soon be taken, a phrase that would be used frequently following his expulsion from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
However, Wikileaks has denied any involvement in the leaking of the information, stating that their own involvement was to Tweet a link to the INA Papers website, inapapers.org. The organisation further stated that Julian Assange is no longer editor-in-chief of the website and has no involvement with the Twitter account, making the claims irrelevant to Assange in any case.
The INA Papers detail the workings of ghost company INA Investment Corp alongside dozens of other links to shell companies and tax havens. The papers show Moreno’s links to Chinese company Sinohydro and their deposit of $18 million in offshore company Recorsa, a company who reportedly then transferred money to INA Investments. The papers directly link the President and his family to criminal dealings including money laundering, tax fraud, bribary and influence peddling. They detail the purchase of expensive goods and property in Europe and the existence of secret Panama bank accounts.
Attempts to bring the INA Papers to a wide audience have been hampered by both Facebook and Twitter, with Twitter suspending the INA Paper’s Twitter account on several occasions and Facebook deleting the Facebook page of Ecuadorian opposition leader Rafael Correa.
Ecuador’s Attorney General has opened a preliminary investigation into Moreno and his associates, while the Ecuadorian people have also made their feelings known with the President’s popularity falling to a mere 17% prior to the arrest of Julian Assange.