Ecuador pulls the plug on Julian Assange’s internet access after Wikileaks ‘dumps’ on Hillary Clinton

Oct 18, 2016 | 27 comments

Ecuador’s foreign ministry said Tuesday afternoon that it has temporarily suspended the internet access of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Assange, who has lived in political asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012, has been directing the release of emails hacked from the U.S. Democratic National Committee in recent weeks.

Julian Assange

Julian Assange

The foreign ministry says that it is Ecuadorian government policy not to interfere in the elections of other countries. The internet cutoff came shortly after Wikileaks released emails on Saturday that included transcripts of speeches given by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Wall Street brokerage firm of Goldman Sachs executives in 2013.

Ecuador denied Wikileak’s claim that it acted under pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to stop email releases that could damage the Clinton campaign. “Ecuador acted on its own national interests in this case,” a ministry statement said. “We are following the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of foreign nations.”

In the same statement, Ecuador said it stood by its decision to provide asylum to Assange.

Earlier this month, a Spanish journalist said that Ecuador was pressuring Assange to withhold potentially damaging emails hacked from the Democratic party’s email servers. See the article. Ecuador President Rafael Correa has said he supports Clinton over her rival Republican rival, Donald Trump.

“Assange is a guest of Ecuador and if they kick him out of the embassy he will be arrested by British police,” says Madrid freelance writer Rafael Marcos. “It’s a fact that Ecuador President Rafael Correa wants Clinton to win the election,” he adds.

Marcos claims to have spoken to a former embassy employee who told him that Ecuadorian officials told Assange that he could release some of Clinton’s emails but only if he also releases information about Donald Trump.

Marc Becker, a professor of Latin American history at Truman State University in Missouri, told the Associated Press Tuesday that while Correa may favor Clinton in the U.S. election, he doubted Ecuador had bowed to U.S. pressure in cutting Assange’s internet access. “Ecuador has its own interests to protect and probably doesn’t appreciate their guests using their resources to interfere in foreign elections,” he said,

Although Wikileaks is able to release new information without Assange’s involvement, Becker believes it will be hesitant to send out “bombshell” revelations about Clinton given Assange’s legally precarious position in the Ecuadorian embassy. “There will probably be more email releases but it is highly unlikely that you’ll see anything devastating to her campaign before the election,” he said. “It’s possible that we may also see hacked documents from the Trump campaign as well,” he added.

The U.S. CIA and FBI claim the Clinton emails were hacked by the Russian government and provided to Wikileaks.

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