As Julian Assange sits in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London twiddling his thumbs and contemplating life without the internet, his WikiLeaks site is continuing to dump masses of sensitive material on the web for everyone and his dog to peruse.
The whistleblowing site’s founder and editor has been holed up in the embassy building since 2012, unwilling to leave for fear of extradition to Sweden on sex assault allegation, and then possibly to the U.S. where he could face charges in connection with WikiLeaks’ ongoing publication of classified government documents.
Over the weekend, shortly after WikiLeaks posted another set of confidential content – this time reportedly containing transcripts of paid speeches made a couple of years ago by Hillary Clinton to Goldman Sachs employees – Assange’s access to the internet was mysteriously blocked.
WikiLeaks’ Twitter account initially blamed a “state actor” for the move, but on Monday Ecuadorian officials admitted that it was behind the action, though declined to say why.
Having had time to formulate a response, the government on Tuesday explained that it’d “temporarily” cut Assange’s internet because his and WikiLeaks’ actions were interfering with the U.S. election.
“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,” it said in a message shared on Twitter.
It added that the government had exercised its right to restrict access to some of its private communications network within its embassy in London, action that has apparently prevented Assange from going online.
The message also said that the Ecuadorian government “does not yield to pressure from other states,” apparently a response to allegations made by WikiLeaks earlier in the day claiming that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had put pressure on Ecuador to block Assange’s access to the internet, though Kerry’s team has rejected the allegation.
But WikiLeaks can of course continue to operate without Assange’s input, and indeed has been posting more confidential content online over the last 48 hours.
In the last seven days alone, the site has published more than 12,000 internal emails nabbed from the private account of Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta. The Democrats have described the WikiLeaks site as a “propaganda arm of the Russian government” that it says is working to help Donald Trump into the White House in next month’s presidential election.
As for Assange, he needn’t worry about the Ecuadorian government suddenly turfing him out of its embassy building. In its message, the government stated it would still offer the Australian asylum to “safeguard his life and physical integrity until he reaches a safe place.”