QUITO, Ecuador, Oct. 19 (UPI) — Ecuador’s government confirmed it directed its embassy in London to cut off Internet access to WikiLeaks co-founder and embassy resident Julian Assange.
The action came as WikiLeaks gradually released emails from the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. A statement from the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry noted it “respects the principles of nonintervention in the affairs of other nations, does not meddle in electoral campaigns nor support any candidate in particular,” noting that “in recent weeks, WikiLeaks has published a wealth of documents impacting on the U.S. election campaign.”
It said Assange’s Internet access at the embassy, where he has lived since 2012, would be “temporarily restricted.”
The statement added that Ecuador “does not respond to pressure from other states,” a reference to a suggestion by WikiLeaks that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asked Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to limit Assange’s Internet access.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement Tuesday, “While our concerns about WikiLeaks are longstanding, any suggestion that Secretary Kerry or the State Department were involved in shutting down WikiLeaks is false.”
After receiving asylum at the Ecuador Embassy in London in 2012 to prevent extradition to Sweden over a rape allegation, the Internet is Assange’s only means of communication with the world. Assange denies the rape allegation and said he suspects it would lead to his extradition to the United States.
Several weeks ago he said WikiLeaks would release weekly confidential information pertinent to the U.S. presidential election, and more than 12,000 emails, believed to be from John Podesta, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, were released in October. Clinton’s campaign has suggested WikiLeaks is working with the Russian government to subvert her efforts in favor of Republican candidate Donald Trump.
WikiLeaks said Monday Assange’s Internet account was “intentionally severed” by a “state party.”
It remains unclear who provided the thousands of emails from the Clinton campaign to WikiLeaks.