Ecuador suspends Assange's ability to communicate with the world via Internet

Tonya Becker
March 30, 2018

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London Thomson Reuters QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador has suspended WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's communication system after he discussed on social media issues that could damage Ecuador's diplomatic relations, the government said on Wednesday.

Ecuador granted Assange political asylum in 2012, but the anti-secrecy activist has been living in virtual captivity at its embassy in London, as the British government has refused to give him safe passage to leave the country.

The measure was adopted following Assange's failure to abide by a written commitment he assumed with the Government at the end of 2017 that obliged him to not send messages that involve interference in the relations of other States.

Assange compared the decision to the one made by Nazi Germany when it arrested Catalan leader Lluis Companys and handed him over to the regime of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.

Assange has lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, where he fled to avoid being extradited to Sweden. Assange has denied the allegations.

The embassy chose to cut off Assange's internet connection after breaking a promise he made.

But authorities in Sweden dropped the case last May, prompting Assange´s lawyers to declare his British arrest warrant has lost its function and goal. But in its communique Wednesday, the South American nation seemed to be saying that enough was enough.

Former Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis and musician Brian Eno said in a statement they had heard "with great concern" about the lost internet access and ban on visitors. In the summer of 2016, the anti-secrecy site published hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee.

Assange's Twitter account has not been updated since March 27, but while he does not now have physical access to the internet, it's likely he'll still be able to use friends and colleagues to get messages out to his social media followers.

Prior to his forced internet sabbatical, Assange had been tweeting on a number of topics, including criticism lobbied at him from a United Kingdom government official and a link to an article on interactions between Italy's Hacking Team and Ecuador's SENAIN intelligence agency.

A junior U.K. Foreign Office minister speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday condemned the comments by the "miserable little worm", to which Assange responded "better a "worm", a healthy creature that invigorates the soil, than a snake".

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