Ecuadorean Embassy Cuts Off Julian Assange’s Internet Access Ahead of 3rd US Presidential Debate

Lead Photo: Wikileaks founder Julian Asange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Photo:Rex Features via AP
Wikileaks founder Julian Asange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Photo:Rex Features via AP
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As WikiLeaks has released thousands of emails tied to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee over the last few months, journalists have tried to unpack the massive amount of information. Just last week, WikiLeaks released what it described as “American journalism ‘holy grail‘”: three transcripts of Hillary Goldman Sachs’ speeches. But this week, the WikiLeaks Twitter account accused the Ecuadorean government of cutting off founder Julian Assange’s internet access.

By Tuesday, Ecuador acknowledged that it had cut off Assange’s internet access at his home at the London embassy. But officials deny that its decision came because of pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. According to the Associated Press, WikiLeaks said “multiple US sources” told them that Kerry made the request when he and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa visited Colombia last month. But it didn’t provide any actual sources.

The State Department denied that Correa acted because of Kerry. “The government of Ecuador respects the principle of nonintervention in the affairs of other countries and it does not interfere in the electoral processes in support of any candidate in particular,” the government stated, according to the New York Times.

The news come just before the third and final presidential debate between Clinton and Donald Trump. As the Daily Beast notes, the leaks haven’t damaged Clinton’s campaign, but they have given Trump a “host of ways to needle Clinton.” “So Wednesday night, she could set a high-minded tone for her would-be presidency to an audience of upwards of 80 million Americans,” the Daily Beast wrote. “Or Trump, with a major assist from Assange, could use the unprecedented leaks to remind voters why so many of them view her as dishonest and untrustworthy.”

Ecuadorean officials also stated that while it was temporarily restricting Assange that it wouldn’t “prevent the WikiLeaks organization from carrying out its journalistic activities.” As of this morning, WikiLeaks has released a 12th batch of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta’s emails.

Recently, Correa told RT that he’d like to see Clinton win. “For the good of the United States and the world, and for my personal appreciation of her, I’d like to see Hillary win,” Correa said. This has led some to believe that perhaps Correa – at odds with Assange – didn’t want the whistleblower to affect the election. “It is possible that Ecuador feared that, because of its decision to give exile to Mr. Assange, it risked becoming a witting or unwitting participants in an effort at voter manipulation,” the New York Times wrote.

Assange has lived at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June 19, 2012 when the South American country granted him asylum. While some questioned whether cutting Assange off from the internet was a sign that Ecuador had grown tired of housing him, the country said it’s not evicting him from its embassy. Assange, who’s wanted for questioning in a 2010 rape allegation in Sweden, went on self-imposed exile. According to The Guardian, Assange has compared living inside the embassy to living on a space station.