He’s been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the U.K. for more than four years, unwilling to leave for fear of extradition to Sweden and then possibly to the U.S. where he could face charges in connection with the ongoing publication of classified government documents.
We’re talking about WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange, a man whose main connection to the outside world – as well as the tool that enables him to work – has just been closed down.
That’s right, his internet connection has been cut.
Assange’s internet went down over the weekend, shortly after WikiLeaks posted its latest trove of confidential material, this time reportedly containing transcripts of paid speeches made a couple of years ago by Hillary Clinton to Goldman Sachs employees. Clinton’s campaign team has described the WikiLeaks site as a “propaganda arm of the Russian government” that it says is working to help Donald Trump become the next U.S. president.
In a tweet posted by WikiLeaks on Saturday, the whistleblowing site said that Assange’s internet link had been “severed by a state party,” adding that it had “activated the appropriate contingency plans.”
On Monday, the site said it was able to confirm that it was Ecuador that had cut off Assange’s internet access, though the Ecuadorian officials have so far offered no information as to why they made the move. However, they did say they would continue to offer Assange asylum.
Earlier this month, Assange announced that to mark WikiLeaks’ 10th anniversary the site would be publishing “significant material” over the following 10 weeks.
Assange sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy after Sweden issued a warrant for his arrest in 2012. The Swedish authorities want to question Assange over sex assault allegations, but the WikiLeaks chief believes that if he goes there he could ultimately be sent to the U.S. where he may face serious jail time over his WikiLeaks activities. Assange believes that if that happens, he has little chance of a fair trial.
With the upcoming presidential election prompting increased activity from the site, we’ll have to wait and see to what extent Assange’s absence affects its operations.