This blows a hole in the conspiracy theories meant to excuse Julian Assange, and by extension the Russians, from malicious actions in the 2016 election. The source of this confirmation makes the admission even more compelling. Rafael Correa was Assange’s greatest defender, but now he’s declaring himself appalled by the actions Assange took — and which Correa abetted, at least tacitly:

Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said Tuesday his country was aware that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was interfering in the 2016 US presidential election from the safety of Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he lived under political asylum until this year.

“We did notice that he was interfering in the elections and we do not allow that because we have principles, very clear values, as we would not like anyone to interfere in our elections,” he said. “We are not going to allow that to happen with a foreign country and friend like the US.” …

“WikiLeaks’ justification was that they were providing truthful information,” Correa told CNN. “Sure, but (it) was just about Hillary Clinton. Not about (Donald) Trump. So, they were not saying all the truth. And not saying all the truth is called manipulation. And we are not going to allow that.”

Ahem. As CNN points out, Correa was Hugo Chavez’ Mini-Me during his decade at the helm of Ecuadorian politics. He regularly tangled with the US, and at least part of his motive for extending Assange asylum for several years was Assange’s targeting of American interests through Wikileaks. The asylum arrangement was a big middle finger to the US, so much so that when Correa’s successor ended it, Correa called Lenin Moreno “the greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history”:

Correa then went on to accuse Moreno of covering up corruption that Assange was attempting to expose:

So why is Correa now admitting that he knew Assange was using the Ecuadorian embassy as a base from which to interfere with the US election? Mainly because he has no real choice. Moreno’s administration leaked their own investigation into Assange’s activities during Correa’s term as president, and it confirms with specificity Assange’s connections to suspected Russian intelligence operatives and the Correa administration’s extraordinary protection of Assange.

Correa’s belated admission is the only possible position left to take, although it doesn’t help his ally Assange much. It confirms the findings of Ecuadorian intelligence even while Correa attempts to distance himself from its implications. Suddenly he’s clucking his tongue at Assange’s activities when Correa had the ability to end them instantly by ejecting Assange from the embassy. Correa never took that step because he was too busy enjoying the headache Assange was creating for the US.

Now Correa says, “we are not going to allow that,” but Correa clearly not only allowed it, he went out of his way to make sure Assange could conduct those operations. Read the CNN report again and pay attention to what happened when Correa’s ambassadors tried to tighten the leash on Assange by limiting his visitors and ending the no-search/no-record status of his visitors. It only took minutes for those orders to be rescinded after Assange contacted Correa’s ministers in Quito. Assange wasn’t just being allowed to do it, it seems pretty clear that Correa was encouraging it and actively enabling it.

Give Moreno credit for bringing the Assange circus to an end. Give credit also to US intelligence assessments that Assange is a malicious intelligence operative and not solely a transparency activist, a point that Correa grudgingly concedes about his own cause celebre now that the cat is fully out of the bag.