WikiLeaks: Ecuador admits limiting Assange’s internet access

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addresses journalists in Berlin via video link on 4 October 2016Image copyright

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Julian Assange has been claiming asylum at London’s Ecuadorean embassy since 2012

Ecuador has acknowledged it partly restricted internet access for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is staying at its embassy in London.

In a statement, Ecuador’s foreign ministry denied its move was the result of pressure from the US.

WikiLeaks earlier accused the US of asking Ecuador to stop the site publishing documents about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The US state department said the allegation was “simply untrue”.

Transparency activist Julian Assange has sought asylum at London’s Ecuadorean embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition over sex assault allegations.

‘No pressure’

In a statement (in Spanish), the Ecuadorian foreign ministry said WikiLeaks’ decision to publish documents which could impact the US presidential election was entirely its own responsibility, and Quito did not want to interfere in the electoral process.

“In that respect, Ecuador, exercising its sovereign right, has temporarily restricted access to part of its communications systems in its UK Embassy,” the statement said.

It added that “Ecuador does not cede to pressures from other countries”.

WikiLeaks earlier said that Ecuador cut off Mr Assange’s internet access on Saturday evening.

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The site has recently been releasing material from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, including those from a hack of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails.

It released three transcripts on Saturday of Mrs Clinton’s paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, which her campaign had long refused to release.

The scripts reveal her bantering relationship with the investment bank’s executives, which is unlikely to allay fears among liberal Democrats that she is too cosy with Wall Street.

The Democratic White House candidate’s camp has claimed the cyber-breach was orchestrated by Russian hackers with the aim of undermining the US democratic process.

While Mrs Clinton’s team has neither confirmed nor denied the leaked emails are authentic, there have been no indications they are fake.

‘Covert’ Syrian action

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WikiLeaks has released Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches to Goldman Sachs

According to the latest leaked emails, Mrs Clinton told a Goldman Sachs conference she would like to intervene secretly in Syria.

She made the remark in answer to a question from Lloyd Blankfein, the bank’s chief executive, in 2013 – months after she left office as secretary of state.

“My view was you intervene as covertly as is possible for Americans to intervene,” she told employees of the bank in South Carolina, which had paid her about $225,000 (£185,000) to give a speech.

Mrs Clinton – who is accused of being hawkish by liberal critics – added: “We used to be much better at this than we are now. Now, you know, everybody can’t help themselves.

“They have to go out and tell their friendly reporters and somebody else: Look what we’re doing and I want credit for it.”

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