Ecuador admitted Tuesday that it cut off Julian Assange’s internet access because of his involvement in releasing hacked emails from Clinton aide John Podesta’s work account. From the Hill:
“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,” Ecuador said in a statement.
“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.”
Assange and Wikileaks have claimed Ecuador took this action at the request of Secretary of State John Kerry. A State Department spokesman denied that and the Ecuadorian government maintains it was acting on its own. The Associated Press reports that Ecuador’s president has previously said he supports Hillary Clinton for President:
In targeting Clinton, Assange may have run afoul of [President Rafael] Correa’s own preference for the Democratic candidate and a renewed effort to repair strained relations with Washington. The president recently said that while a Trump victory would energize Latin Americans to reject overhanded U.S. policies in the world much in the way George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq did he personally would like to see Clinton prevail.
“For the good of the United States and the world, and for my personal appreciation of her, I’d like to see Hillary win,” he told the Moscow-backed RT broadcaster last month.
It’s not clear what this is really supposed to accomplish. Assange has people working for him who will continue to leak information connected to the U.S. election. No doubt this will be an inconvenience but unless they also cut off Assange’s access to a phone this seems mostly symbolic.
Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for four years. He was granted asylum to avoid a rape charge, and several lesser charges, brought against him by two women in Sweden. Assange has claimed those charges are false. The lesser three charges have been dropped because too much time has passed since the incident took place but the rape charge still stands. If Assange leaves the Ecuadorian embassy the British police have promised to arrest him.