The government of Ecuador has admitted that the rumors about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s Internet connection are true. Ecuador says that Assange’s Internet has been ‘temporarily restricted’ at their embassy in London because of his involvement in releasing emails that directly affect the US presidential elections.
In particular, Assange’s organization has released a number of emails that demonstrate institutionalized favoritism within the Democratic National Committee. The emails released via Wikileaks shed light on inappropriate behavior within the DNC (to influence the primaries race in favor of Hillary Clinton).
In addition, some of the emails that have been released on Wikileaks demonstrate that staff at the Clinton Foundation had been working to help Clinton’s presidential campaign. Most recently, an archive of emails relating to conversations made by Hillary Clinton campaign adviser John Podesta were leaked by Assange’s organization. Those emails allegedly reveal a direct relationship between Clinton’s campaign and members of the press, whose aim has allegedly been to unduly influence the election process.
Ecuador: It was us
On Tuesday, Ecuador’s government released a statement confirming that Assange (who has been cooped up in the Ecuadorian embassy since June of 2012) is indeed now without an active Internet connection. The statement said that the government of Ecuador,
‘Respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states.’
In addition the statement said that the decision to cut off Assange’s Internet within the embassy had occurred because,
‘in recent weeks, WikiLeaks has published a wealth of documents, impacting on the US election campaign.’
Up to now, the government of Ecuador had been happy to offer Assange asylum (including a web connection). Unfortunately for Assange, despite Ecuador’s offer of asylum he has never been able to make his way over to Ecuador itself. The reason? If he steps foot outside of the embassy in Knightsbridge, London, he will be arrested and extradited to Sweden: Where he is wanted on sexual assault charges.
The truth behind those allegations is uncertain, though evidence has emerged in the past that seems to cast doubt on the veracity of those charges. Assange himself says they are baseless accusations. The concern of Assange’s lawyers is that if he is extradited to Sweden to face those charges – even if he is found innocent – he could then be extradited to the US to face other charges.
If the Ecuadorian embassy decided to withdraw its support of asylum, Julian Assange could face some pretty serious charges. Luckily for him, however, in the recent statement Ecuador reiterated its intent to keep safe harboring the fugitive within its embassy (at least for the time being) – ‘to safeguard his life and physical integrity until he reaches a safe place’.
Assange’s Internet connection was cut off on Monday morning. At that time, it was unclear who exactly had cut off his Internet, though a statement on Wikileaks claimed that it had been deliberately cut off ‘by state actors’. At that point, no one was exactly sure if it was Britain that had cut off the embassy’s Internet or the embassy that had cut off Assange itself.
Today’s statement has shed some light on the mystery surrounding the event, though the likelihood of Britain cutting off the Ecuadorian embassy’s Internet was considered highly unlikely.
The Wikileaks whistleblower?
Since Wikileaks started releasing emails that could have a direct impact on the presidential race back in August, the editor of the website has come under fire for attempting to undermine the Clinton campaign. Those claims are strongly denied by Assange.
So far, no one knows exactly who Wikileaks’ whistleblower is. Cyber security experts working for the US government, however, have claimed that the DNC hacks were perpetrated by Russian hackers working for Putin. A claim that Putin has once more denied last week.
Despite claims from US intelligence that the Russians are behind the cyber-attacks, no evidence has been released. In addition, although some evidence has emerged from the private sector – which claims to have uncovered evidence of Russian hackers ‘Fancy Bear’ – it is worth noting that for the time being it is impossible to tell who those hackers were working for (or even whether they were truly Russian at all). What we do know, is that so far leaks have come from three sources – Wikileaks, Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks.
No outside influence
For now, Ecuador is claiming that it acted without pressure from America itself. It says that it closed down Assange’s Internet of its own volition and that it ‘does not yield to pressure from other states.’
Wikileaks itself, however, has said it has evidence that suggests Assange’s Internet was cut off at the request of US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Interestingly, last month Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa told the Russian news outlet RT that a win for Clinton would favor the US overall, but that a Trump win might have benefits for left-wing parties within South America. Obviously, for the U.S., it would be better if Hillary won. I know her personally and have a great deal of respect for her,’ Correa said. Before continuing,
‘But, seriously, Trump would be better for Latin America. When did progressive governments come to power in Latin America? With Obama or with Bush? Bush’s primitive policies were rejected so much that it caused reaction in Latin America. Trump would do the same: maximize the contradictions.’