PARIS (AP) — WikiLeaks has blamed Ecuador for cutting off founder Julian Assange’s internet access while he is holed up at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, and while his group is releasing thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.
Assange has been at the embassy for more than four years after skipping bail to avoid being extradited over sex crimes allegations.
WikiLeaks initially blamed an unidentified “state actor” for cutting off Assange’s internet access, then on Monday said in a tweet that it was Ecuador. It said access was cut off at 5 p.m. GMT Saturday.
Calls, texts and emails left with WikiLeaks weren’t immediately returned Monday. A woman who picked up the phone at the embassy said: “I cannot disclose any information.”
Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry released a brief statement that didn’t mention the internet cut off, but reaffirmed its decision to grant Assange asylum.
“Faced with the speculation of the last few hours, the Government of Ecuador ratifies the validity of the asylum granted to Julian Assange four years ago,” the Foreign Ministry said. “We reaffirm that his protection by the Ecuadorean state will continue while the circumstances that led to the granting of asylum remain.”
London’s Metropolitan Police declined to comment.
Assange’s cramped quarters haven’t prevented the Australian transparency activist from working and WikiLeaks continues to deliver scoops, including revelations that have rattled Clinton’s campaign for president as the U.S. election enters its final stretch.
WikiLeaks said in its tweet blaming Ecuador that Assange’s internet was cut shortly after it published transcripts of paid speeches Clinton gave to Goldman Sachs. Those were part of the tranche of emails hacked from the accounts of John Podesta, campaign chairman for the Democratic nominee.
Associated Press Writer Gonzalo Solano contributed reporting from Quito, Ecuador.