Julian Assange: Ecuador confirms restricting internet access to Wikileaks founder; denies US pressure

Julian Assange: Ecuador confirms restricting internet access to Wikileaks founder; denies US pressure

Julian Assange: Ecuador confirms restricting internet access to Wikileaks founder; denies US pressure

Updated 20 October 2016, 5:40 AEDT

Ecuador confirms limiting internet access inside Julian Assange's embassy home in London, but denies being pressured by the United States ahead of next month's election.

Government and Politics:ALL:ALLScience and Technology:Computers and Technology:Internet TechnologyEvent:US Elections:ALLUnited Kingdom:England:ALLUnited Kingdom:ALL:ALLUnited States:ALL:ALLEcuador:ALL:ALLassange, ecuador, internet, wikileaks, london, embassyReutersJulian Assange: Ecuador confirms restricting internet access to Wikileaks founder; denies US pressureEcuador confirms limiting internet access inside Julian Assange's embassy home in London, but denies being pressured by the United States ahead of next month's election.

Ecuador's government has confirmed it temporarily cut off WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's internet, saying it has a policy of not intervening in other country's affairs, but denying it has been pressured to silence Mr Assange by the US.

Mr Assange, who is wanted for questioning on sexual assault charges in Sweden, has been living inside Ecuador's embassy in London for the last four years.

In recent weeks Wikileaks has released thousands of documents about US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, including the transcripts of private speeches she delivered to Wall Street executives.

Ecuador's government said the release of the classified material would have an impact on the US presidential election, which pits Mrs Clinton against Republican candidate Donald Trump.

It said WikiLeaks' decision to publish the documents was entirely its own responsibility, and the South American country did not cede to pressure from other nations.

"Ecuador, exercising its sovereign right, has temporarily restricted access to part of its communications systems in its UK Embassy," it said in a statement.

The government added that Ecuador "respects the principle of non-intervention in other countries' affairs, it does not meddle in election processes underway, nor does it support any candidate specially."

WikiLeaks said Mr Assange lost connectivity on Sunday, sparking speculation that Ecuador might have been pressured by the United States over the group's publication of the hacked material.

The US State Department denied having any role in restricting Mr Assange's internet access.

"While our concerns about WikiLeaks are longstanding, any suggestion that Secretary (John) Kerry or the State Department were involved in shutting down WikiLeaks is false," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

Mr Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador after a British court ordered him extradited to Sweden to face questioning in a sexual molestation case involving two female supporters.

WikiLeaks said it activated "contingency plans" to counter the partial internet limitation, and Ecuador said that its action did not stop the group continuing "journalistic activities."

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has long backed Mr Assange's right to free speech and has also supported Mrs Clinton publicly.

"For the good of the United States and the world ... I would like Hillary to win," he told broadcaster Russia Today last month.

ABC/Reuters

internationalJulian Assange speaks from balcony of Ecuadorian embassy in London in July 2016WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lost internet connectivity on Sunday.