According to Reuters, Ecuador’s government acknowledged on Tuesday it had partly restricted internet access for Julian Assange, the founder of anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks who has lived in the South American country’s London embassy since mid-2012.
WikiLeaks said Assange lost connectivity on Sunday, sparking speculation Ecuador might have been pressured by the United States due to the group’s publication of hacked material linked to U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
In a statement, Ecuador’s leftist government said WikiLeaks’ decision to publish documents impacting the U.S. election campaign was entirely its own responsibility, and the South American country did not cede to pressure from other nations.
“In that respect, Ecuador, exercising its sovereign right, has temporarily restricted access to part of its communications systems in its UK Embassy,” it added in a statement.
“The Ecuador government 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.”
Julian Assange is an Australian computer programmer, publisher and journalist. He is editor-in-chief of the organisation WikiLeaks, which he founded in 2006.
On November 2010, Assange was requested to be extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning concerning an allegation of rape. Assange denied the allegation and has expressed concern that he would be extradited from Sweden to the United States due to his perceived role in publishing secret American documents.
After exhausting his legal options in the United Kingdom, Assange did not surrender for extradition. Rather, he sought and was granted asylum by Ecuador in August 2012. Assange has since remained in the Embassy of Ecuador in London, and is unable to leave without being arrested for breaching his bail conditions.