Cancillería del Ecuador/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA)
In an official statement, the government of Ecuador said it cut off Julian Assange's internet access in retaliation for what it views as a deliberate effort by the Wikileaks founder to directly affect the outcome of the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
“The Government of Ecuador respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. It does not interfere in external electoral processes, nor does it favor any particular candidate,” the statement reads. “Accordingly, Ecuador has exercised its sovereign right to temporarily restrict access to some of its private communications network within its Embassy in the United Kingdom. This temporary restriction does not prevent the Wikileaks organization from carrying out its journalistic activities.”
The Ecuadorian government has granted Assange asylum inside of its London embassy since 2012. Assange is avoiding participation in an investigation of sexual assault allegations against him in Sweden because, he believes, his arrest there will lead to his extradition to the United States for the radical transparency group's publication of thousands of diplomatic cables leaked by former U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning.
Inside the embassy, Assange has led the organization on a crusade against the 2016 presidential campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—hosting databases of documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign adviser John Podesta, cyberattacks U.S. officials have formally blamed on the Russian government. Assange has insisted he does not know who stole the material from the Clinton campaign and its Democratic allies, but has ruffled at assertions about Russia's involvement.
Earlier this week, Wikileaks' official Twitter account tweeted that Assange's “internet link has been intentionally severed by a state party.”
While Assange has personally lost his broadband access, that hasn't stopped Wikileaks from continued to drop new batches of emails stolen from Podesta's personal account on a daily basis.
Despite Ecuador's displeasure with Assange's targeted efforts to hamper the Clinton campaign and usher former reality TV star Donald Trump into the White House, it has no plans to deny the international fugitive ongoing sanctuary.
“Ecuador, in accordance with its tradition of defending human rights and protecting the victims of political persecution, reaffirms the asylum granted to Julian Assange and reiterates its intention to safeguard his lift and physical integrity until he reaches a safe place,” the statement read.
Since reports about Assange's disconnection first circulated, there has been rampant speculation that the White House was responsible for the decision. However, Ecuador's statement pushed back against those assertions. “Ecuador's foreign policy responds to sovereign decisions alone and does not yield to pressure from other states,” the statement noted.
In an email to the Daily Dot on Tuesday, the State Department insisted U.S. officials had nothing to do with the move. “While our concerns about Wikileaks are longstanding, any suggestion that Secretary Kerry or the State Department were involved in shutting down Wikileaks is false,” a department spokesperson charged. “Reports that Secretary Kerry had conversations with Ecuadorian officials about this are simply untrue. Period.”