Ecuador cuts off Julian Assange’s internet in London embassy because he tweeted about Russian ex-spy’s poisoning
Assange had disputed Britain’s claim that Russia was behind the attack, breaching his agreement not to interfere with other nations, Ecuador said
Julian Assange’s contact with the outside world was cut off on Wednesday after the Ecuadorean embassy in which he is staying decided that he had breached the terms of his stay by commenting on the UK-Russia dispute over a poisoned ex-spy.
Ecuador said that the WikiLeaks founder - who has been holed up in its London embassy since 2012 - had broken a 2017 agreement by disputing the UK’s claim that Russia poisoned former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter on March 4.
Assange also questioned the decision by Britain and more than 20 countries to retaliate against the poisoning by expelling Russian diplomats they had deemed spies.
The comments prompted a British Foreign Office minister, Alan Duncan, to brand Assange a “miserable little worm” who should leave the embassy to turn himself over to British authorities.
Assange, 46, has spent much of his time in his small room in the embassy tweeting and at times contributing to RT, a Russian state-owned television channel that broadcasts Kremlin messaging, as well as taking part in media conferences via video link.
In 2016, Ecuador briefly suspended his internet connection for posting documents online that were seen as having an impact on the US presidential election from which Donald Trump emerged the victor.
In May 2017, Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno asked Assange to refrain from commenting on a separatist crisis in Spain over that country’s Catalonia region, after he tweeted that Madrid was guilty of “repression.”
Assange took refuge in the diplomatic mission in 2012 after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault there.
Assange claims the accusations were politically motivated and could lead to him being extradited to the United States to face imprisonment over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.
Sweden dropped its investigation last year, but British authorities say they still want to arrest him for breaching his bail conditions.
Ecuador in December made Assange an Ecuadorean citizen and unsuccessfully tried to register him as a diplomat with immunity as part of its efforts to have the WikiLeaks founder leave the embassy without risk of being detained.