QUITO: Ecuador said on Wednesday it had cut the internet access of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is holed up at its London embassy, due to leaks by the anti-secrecy website that could impact the US election.
WikiLeaks has in recent weeks published a damaging trove of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, which accuses it of trying to sway the election in favour of Republican Donald Trump.
“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 favour any particular candidate,” the Ecuadoran foreign ministry said in a statement. In consequence, the ministry said, it decided to “temporarily restrict” communications at the embassy.
On Tuesday WikiLeaks accused Ecuador of cutting off Assange’s internet communications at the behest of US Secretary of State John Kerry, citing “multiple US sources.”
The United States denied the allegation. “While our concerns about WikiLeaks are longstanding, any suggestion that Secretary Kerry or the State Depart–ment were involved in shutting down WikiLeaks is false,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
Ecuador reaffirmed its decision to grant Assange asylum, and said the restriction on communications at its embassy did not hinder WikiLeaks itself. “This temporary restriction does not prevent the WikiLeaks organisation from carrying out its journalistic activities,” it said.