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U.S. Urged Ecuador To Cut Assange's Internet

| by Lauren Briggs

The U.S. government had a part in Ecuador cutting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's internet at the country's London embassy, officials said on Oct. 19.

"It was a bit of an eviction notice," a senior intelligence official told NBC News.

Ecuadorian officials announced on Oct. 18 that they had restricted Assange's internet access at their London Embassy, where the anti-secrecy group's founder has lived for more than four years. Assange and his actions have been frustrating the South American Country's government for months, and they finally decided on an approach, a source said.

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

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U.S. officials reportedly believe that Assange is, to a degree, complicit with Russian intelligence attempting to manipulate the U.S. elections.

"The general view is he is a willing participant in the Russian scheme but not an active plotter in it," explained a senior intelligence official. "They just realized they could use him."

WikiLeaks said that Assange's internet was cut off on Oct. 16 after the site posted email exchanges between Hillary Clinton's campaign adviser John Podesta and other high-ranking Democrats. The U.S. said Russian intelligence agencies hacked into those accounts and cooperated with the organization, but officials have issued conflicting statements about the degree of their involvement in restricting Assange's internet.

"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.

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But U.S. officials reportedly told NBC that they asked Ecuador to put a stop to Assange assisting the Russians.

Many top politicians have expressed concerns about Russian access to their private information, while others have praised the forced transparency of the content. Donald Trump has lauded the organization for its transparency and called out the media for downplaying the releases.

"WikiLeaks has provided things that are unbelievable," Trump said at an Oct. 18 rally in Colorado, according to ABC News. "The media, you have to remember, is an extension of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It's an extension. And without that, she would be nowhere."

Sources: NBC News, ABC News / Photo credit: Cancilleria del Ecuador/Flickr

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