Earlier this week, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange suddenly found himself without internet access at his hideout at Ecuador’s London Embassy. Now, intelligence officials have revealed that top U.S. authorities pressured Ecuador into silencing Assange and keeping him off the Internet.
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Assange has been sequestered in Ecuador for four years, taking advantage of his diplomatic immunity at the UK embassy to publish damning information about various entities via Wikileaks. On Tuesday, Ecuador announced that it would partially restrict his internet access, with sources claiming that the country’s government has grown tired of housing him.
The U.S. government has blamed Russia for hacking into American servers and funneling the data to Assange, presumably to manipulate the outcome of the presidential election. Intelligence officials claim that Assange is merely a pawn in a larger game being played out by the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Obama administration has sent mixed signals about its role in blocking Assange’s internet access. Both the State Department and the Intelligence Community have released statements distancing themselves from the alleged censorship.
However, U.S. intelligence officials have admitted to urging Ecuador to disallow Assange from colluding with Russian intelligence agencies, suggesting that the move to cut the controversial figure’s internet access was merely an implication, not a demand.
On Thursday, Wikileaks released Part 13 of its trove of hacked emails from the account of John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.