Ecuador Admits It Cut Internet Access for WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange
U.S. State Department denies exerting any influence over Ecuador in its decision, countering WikiLeaks' claims
The Ecuadorian government has confirmed that it "temporarily" cut off internet access for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in the country's embassy in London since 2012, over fears that recent leaks were improperly influencing the 2016 presidential election.
In an official statement released Tuesday, Ecuador stated that it "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," the statement continued, "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."
WikiLeaks first reported on Monday that Assange's internet connection had been "intentionally severed by a state party."
While the government's statement insisted that "Ecuador's foreign policy responds to sovereign decisions alone and does not yield to pressure from other states," WikiLeaks claimed otherwise on Twitter on Tuesday:
BREAKING: Multiple US sources tell us John Kerry asked Ecuador to stop Assange from publishing Clinton docs during FARC peace negotiations.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 18, 2016
The State Department denied the allegation, with spokesman John Kirby telling the Associated Press in an email: "While our concerns about WikiLeaks are longstanding, any suggestion that Secretary Kerry or the State Department were involved in shutting down WikiLeaks is false."
The AP further reported that deputy spokesman Mark Toner said in a news briefing that "Kerry never even raised the issue or met with [Ecuadorian President Rafael] Correa during his visit to Colombia."
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks continues to drop the latest installments in its ongoing #PodestaEmails dump, with messages hacked from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign adviser John Podesta.
The most recent leaks include Clinton's long list for vice presidential candidates; more evidence of the Clinton campaign's disdain for former rival Bernie Sanders; and cozy messages between political operatives and the press.