It sparked a brief internet frenzy that Julian Assange had been killed, but the silence that followed the release of three “insurance” keys by the WikiLeaks Twitter account early Monday morning has been clarified: Ecuador cut off internet access for Assange inside its London embassy out of concerns about WikiLeaks’ release of emails damaging to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.
In a statement released this morning, Ecuador announced:
“In recent weeks, WikiLeaks has published a wealth of documents, impacting on the U.S. election campaign. This decision was taken exclusively by that organization. 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. 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.”
That confirms an earlier claim from WikiLeaks itself. Ecuador has been under considerable pressure from both the United Kingdom and the United States for several years over its provision of asylum to Assange, but WikiLeaks’ publication of stolen Democratic HQ emails and perceptions Assange is siding with Donald Trump has increased the pressure on the South American country. WikiLeaks claims Secretary of State John Kerry raised the issue with Ecuador in September, but the Ecuadorean government can read the polls: Clinton is heavily favoured to win, making the continued asylum for Assange against confected rape allegations in Sweden and likely indictment in the US for his publishing more problematic.
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Meanwhile, WikiLeaks continues to publish more emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta.