Ecuador says it cut Julian Assange’s internet access to prevent interference with the election

Ecuador has claimed responsibility for cutting off Julian Assange’s internet access, calling it a “temporary restriction” aimed at preventing him from interfering with the U.S. election. WikiLeaks tweeted about the outage over the weekend and claimed confirmation it was Ecuador yesterday. Turns out they were right.

An official statement was issued by the Ecuadorian government explaining their actions. A translated version sent to Politico’s Eric Geller read in part:

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 favor any particular candidate.

Accordingly, Ecuador has exercised its sovereign right to temporarily restrict access to some of its private communications network within its Embassy in the United Kingdom. This temporary restriction does not prevent the WikiLeaks organization from carrying out its journalistic activities.

WikiLeaks rather disagrees, of course, and has already “activated the appropriate contingency plans,” of which it must have many, considering its controversial status and leader. The organization also alleges that John Kerry requested this internet cut-off during meetings in September.

Since Assange is holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to prevent his own extradition, he hasn’t got much recourse when they change the Wi-Fi password. It’s unlikely he won’t find another way to get online, or just post by proxy, so this restriction seems largely symbolic.

No word on when the restriction will be lifted; we’ll investigate this and other questions further.