LONDON, U.K. - Ecuador has "temporarily restricted" WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's access to the internet in the country’s London embassy, apparently in the wake of ...
• WikiLeaks accused U.S. of urging Ecuador to stop Assange from publishing emails on Hillary Clinton
• Ecuador said it was an independent decision devoid of any external pressure
• WikiLeaks said it initiated “contingency plans” after Assange’s internet prohibition
LONDON, U.K. - Ecuador has "temporarily restricted" WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's access to the internet in the country’s London embassy, apparently in the wake of reports that the anti-secrecy group was allegedly interfering in the U.S. electoral process.
The government of Ecuador, however, said in a statement that it was an independent decision devoid of any external pressure.
“In that respect, Ecuador, exercising its sovereign right, has temporarily restricted access to part of its communications systems in its U.K. Embassy... The Ecuador government respects the principle of non-intervention in other countries’ affairs, it does not meddle in election processes underway, nor does it support any candidate specially," the statement said.
WikiLeaks has accused U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of urging the Ecuadorean government to stop Assange from publishing emails or interfering in the American election process.
The anti-secrecy unit, in a series of tweets, said, "Multiple U.S. sources tell us John Kerry asked Ecuador to stop Assange from publishing (Democratic presidential candidate Hillary) Clinton’s docs during FARC peace negotiations."
The tweet was in reference to talks on a peace deal between Colombia's rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), and the Colombian government.
A peace accord brokered with the left-wing rebel group was narrowly rejected in a recent national referendum.
In reply, the State Department on Wednesday said U.S. had no role in restricting Assange’s internet reach.
“While our concerns about WikiLeaks are longstanding, any suggestion that secretary (John) Kerry or the state department were involved in shutting down WikiLeaks is false,” State Department spokesman John Kirby was quoted as saying in a release.
WikiLeaks has said it initiated “contingency plans” after Assange’s internet prohibition, while Ecuador maintained its action did not stop the group from continuing “journalistic activities.”
Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador in 2012 after a U.K. court ordered his extradition to Sweden to face questioning in an alleged sexual molestation case.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has been conspicuous in backing Assange’s right to free speech, and has also openly supported Clinton's candidature.