Ecuador has blocked Julian Assange from accessing the internet from within its London embassy, his residence since 2012, over the WikiLeaks publisher’s recent social media posts.
Mr. Assange’s internet access was suspended for violating a written commitment he made with Ecuador in late 2017 in which he promised not to issue messages that could interfere with other countries, the Ecuadorian government said in a statement Wednesday.
“The Government of Ecuador warns that the behavior of Assange, with its messages through social networks, puts at risk the good relations that the country maintains with the United Kingdom, with the rest of the States of the European Union and other nations,” Ecuador’s statement said, loosely translated.
The decision to revoke Mr. Assange’s internet access was made “to prevent potential damage,” Ecuador’s statement said.
Mr. Assange could not be reached for comment Wednesday, and details regarding neither the precise social media posts nor the written contract referenced by Ecuador could immediately be ascertained.
Mr. Assange, 46, entered the Ecuadorean Embassy in 2012 and requested asylum in lieu of surrendering to Swedish authorities over a rape allegation. Mr. Assange received asylum that summer, and Sweden dropped its criminal probe in 2017. He was under house arrest when he entered the facility, however, and a U.K. judge last month said it remains in the interests of justice to charge Mr. Assange with breaching bail.
A subject of a lengthy U.S. Department of Justice investigation, Mr. Assange has refused to leave the embassy on account of his likely being arrested and potentially extradited to the U.S. where he risks being charged in connection with publishing classified military and diplomatic documents through his WikiLeaks website dating back to 2010.
“It’s of great regret that Julian Assange remains in the Ecuador Embassy,” Alan Duncan, a junior U.K. foreign affairs minister, said during a question-and-answer session Tuesday. “It’s about time that this miserable little worm walked out of the embassy and gave himself up to British justice.”
Ecuador previously severed Mr. Assange’s internet access, albeit briefly, after WikiLeaks began publishing sensitive documents during the 2016 U.S. presidential race damaging to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“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,” Ecuador said at the time.