Ecuador cuts off Julian Assange's internet connection in London embassy

  • The Ecuadorian government has cut off Julian Assange's internet connection in its embassy in London.
  • The Wikileaks founder has been holed up in the embassy since 2012 after being accused of rape in Sweden.
  • Ecuador said it did so because his posts on social media risk damaging its relationship with the UK and the EU.


Ecuador has cut off Julian Assange's internet connection in its embassy in Knightsbridge, London.

The 46-year-old founder of publishing platform Wikileaks has lived in the Embassy since 2012, after taking refuge there to avoid extradition to Sweden over a rape allegation, which he denies.

Assange maintains that if he went to Sweden to answer questions about the allegations, he would then be extradited to the US for his political activities with Wikileaks. In 2017, Sweden dropped its rape investigation — but Assange will still be arrested for breaching the terms of his UK bail if he stepped foot outside the embassy.

Assange's active use of social network Twitter played a part in the Ecuadorian government's decision to cut off his internet connection. In a statement, it said that it took action to remove his ability to communicate with the outside world because it was concerned that Assange's posts risk damaging Ecuador's relationship with the UK and the European Union. The way the statement was written also leaves open the possibility that other ways of communicating with the outside world could be impacted.

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, in central London, Britain February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Files
A supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange holds a banner outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London as he marks three years since Assange claimed asylum in the embassy on June 19, 2015. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange clocks up three years inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London today, after claiming that Swedish prosecutors cancelled a landmark meeting in his case earlier this week. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange holds banners outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London as he marks three years since Assange claimed asylum in the embassy on June 19, 2015. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange clocks up three years inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London today, after claiming that Swedish prosecutors cancelled a landmark meeting in his case earlier this week. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Julian Assange, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks speaks via video link during a press conference on the occasion of the ten year anniversary celebration of WikiLeaks in Berlin, Germany, October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears on screen via video link during his participation as a guest panelist in an International Seminar on the 60th anniversary of the college of Journalists of Chile in Santiago, Chile, July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido
File photo dated 05/02/16 of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who will publish more confidential documents on the US Central Intelligence Agency once a "key attack code" has been disarmed, he has revealed.
File photo dated 5/2/2016 of Julian Assange who has defended the release of emails by WikiLeaks about US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaking from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has been living for more than three years after the country granted him political asylum.
BERLIN, GERMANY - OCTOBER 4: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange participates via video link at a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of the secrecy-spilling group in Berlin, Germany on October 4, 2016. (Photo by Maurizio Gambarini/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
The Spanish journalist Ignacio Ramonet presents in Quito, Ecuador, on June 23, 2016 the Ecuador 's book " When Google found Wikileaks". Julian Assange made his appearance to the world in 2010 with the publication by WikiLeaks of thousands of secret documents revealing conspiracies , corruption, crimes , lies, and incriminate several governments and particularly the United States as the main actor illegalities. (Photo by Rafael Rodr�uez/ACGPHOTO/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange prepares to speak from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy where he continues to seek asylum following an extradition request from Sweden in 2012, on February 5, 2016 in London, England. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has insisted that Mr Assange's detention should be brought to an end. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: A panel of WikiLeaks representitives and press look on as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks at a press conference at the Frontline Club via video link from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on 5 February 2016 in London, England. Mr Assange's speech comes a day after it was announced that the UN panel ruled he was being unlawfully detained at the Ecuadorian Embassy. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Australian founder of whistleblowing website, 'WikiLeaks', Julian Assange speaks to media after giving a press conference in London on July 26, 2010. The founder of a website which published tens of thousands of leaked military files about the war in Afghanistan said Monday they showed that the 'course of the war needs to change'. In all, some 92,000 documents dating back to 2004 were released by the whistleblowers' website Wikileaks to the New York Times, Britain's Guardian newspaper, and Germany's Der Spiegel news weekly. Assange also used a press conference in London to dismiss the White House's furious reaction to the disclosures. AFP PHOTO/Leon Neal (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 21: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Wikileaks founder Julian Assange poses during a portrait shoot on May 21, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Chew/Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).
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Wikileaks is fiercely controversial, and has repeatedly drawn the ire of the American government for its release of highly classified documents. These include internal memos from US embassies, and a "Collateral Murder" video which showed a US helicopter firing on journalists in Iraq.

In the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election, Wikileaks released emails and documents taken from the Democratic Party — dominating the news cycle with headlines unfavourable to establishment favourite Hillary Clinton. The US government has said the documents were stolen by Russian hackers, and deliberately released to undermine faith in the election and destabilise Clinton.

Assange's five years of self-imposed captivity have not been easy. He has suffered from health ailments, Wikileaks has said, but has not left to seek treatment for fear of being arrested. The relationship with his Ecuadorian hosts has been at times strained. Documents leaked to BuzzFeed detailed apparent concerns about his psychological health, and included photos of a bookcase that was thrown across his room in 2013.

Ecuador has cut off Assange's internet before. In 2016, it temporarily deactivated his access over concerns that Wikileaks' releases were interfering in the US presidential election.

Here's the full statement from the Ecuadorian government (in Spanish):

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