Ecuador Cuts WikiLeaks Chief's Internet, to Talk to His Lawyers
(Bloomberg) -- Ecuador says it will meet with attorneys for the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange next week after the South American nation shut down his internet access at its London embassy for breaching the terms of his asylum.
Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa made the announcement on Wednesday, saying that Assange, who has been holed up in the building since 2012, had agreed not to meddle “in internal matters of other states.” In recent days, Assange had taken to social media to criticize former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s arrest as well as the expulsions of Russian envoys over the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain.
A junior U.K. Foreign Office minister speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday condemned the comments by the “miserable little worm,” to which Assange responded via Twitter “better a ‘worm’, a healthy creature that invigorates the soil, than a snake.” He tweeted again five minutes later before his feed went silent.
"Assange’s behavior, with his messages on social networks, puts good relations with the U.K., the European Union and other nations at risk," Ecuador President Lenin Moreno’s office said in a statement announcing the decision to cut Assange’s internet access.
The U.K. insists that Assange face justice for skipping bail following allegations of sex crimes in Sweden. Those original allegations have since been dropped. WikiLeaks says that his stay in the embassy has forced him to serve more than 14 times the maximum sentence under U.K. law.
Ecuador in October 2016 briefly cut off Assange’s internet access on concern about his efforts to interfere in the U.S. elections and WikiLeaks’ publication of hacked Democratic National Committee emails
Ecuador is exploring "alternatives under international law and that our own legislation" permits, Espinosa said. Last year Ecuador granted the 46-year-old citizenship and sought to register him as a diplomat in a bid to solve the stand off with the U.K. Britain’s Foreign Office rejected the petition a day later.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.