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Ecuador admits it cut Julian Assange’s embassy internet connection

US denies pressuring President Rafael Correa over WikiLeaks Democratic Party emails

Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London for four years.
Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London for four years. AP

Ecuador said on Tuesday that it has “temporarily restricted” the internet access of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in the country’s London embassy for the last four years.

In a brief statement, Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry said it had cut access at its embassy in London in light of concerns that the WikiLeaks founder, who has lived there since he was granted political asylum in 2012, was interfering in the US presidential election.

WikiLeaks has published thousands of emails detailing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign

“The government of Ecuador respects the principle of non-intervention in the affairs of other countries and does not interfere with electoral processes or support any particular candidate,” said the country’s Foreign Ministry in a brief statement.

WikiLeaks has published thousands of emails detailing the internal goings on of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The whistle-blowing website has continued operations despite the interruption.

WikiLeaks reported that Assange’s internet connection had been cut on Saturday evening, accusing Quito of submitting to US pressure. The US State Department issued a statement denying having pressured the government of President Rafael Correa.

“While our concerns about WikiLeaks are longstanding, any suggestion that Secretary Kerry or the State Department were involved in shutting down WikiLeaks are false,” John Kirby, State Department spokesman, said on Tuesday.

Assange has become a growing problem for Ecuador since requesting asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he faces questioning over sexual assault allegations that he denies. At the time, he expressed concern that the Swedish authorities would extradite him to the United States to face trial for the leak of hundreds of thousands of classified US military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

Ecuador has signaled that it would continue to grant Assange asylum

Ecuador has signaled that it would continue to grant Assange asylum, but the Foreign Ministry statement suggests he would be treated differently from now on. Ecuador is mediating with the Swedish authorities over the rape allegations.

WikiLeaks gained international attention in 2006 when it published cables that detailed the inner workings of US foreign policy. In recent months it has published emails stolen from top Democratic Party officials.

In July, days before the Democratic National Convention, it published more than 19,000 emails believed to have been taken from the Democratic Party, prompting the resignation of senior party officials.

Earlier this month, WikiLeaks again published several thousand emails, revealing messages apparently sent and received by top Clinton aide John Podesta. The organization is expected to continue releasing thousands of additional Podesta emails in the days leading up to the US election.

The Clinton campaign has accused Russia of stealing the emails and then having WikiLeaks post them. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing the case. The Clinton campaign refuses to confirm whether or not the emails are authentic.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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