US Did Pressure Ecuador About Assange: Report

But the State Dept. denies it
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2016 7:49 AM CDT
US Did Pressure Ecuador About Assange: Report
The Ecuadorian flag flies outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Ecuador may be claiming its decision to cut Julian Assange's internet was all its own, but that's not the story some US officials are telling. Intelligence sources tell NBC News that the US government quietly communicated to Ecuador that Assange is tied up with Russian hacking—officials say he knows the files he's releasing through WikiLeaks come from Russian intelligence, though he's not taking part in any hacking himself—and shouldn't be allowed to continue. The information helped bring about what one official describes as Assange's "eviction notice," sources say. Assange himself says Secretary of State John Kerry pressured Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa during a meeting last month to take action against Assange.

A State Department rep, however, says "any suggestion that Secretary Kerry or the State Department were involved in shutting down WikiLeaks is false." The AP notes Ecuador, whose economy is struggling, might simply have chosen not to risk its relationship with the US, its largest trade partner. Either way, WikiLeaks is still tweeting links to hacked emails from Democratic officials, including John Podesta. And though Assange is still offline, he's at least on top of the news. London-based Canadian comedian Bobby Mair tweeted a photo of himself holding a megaphone on Wednesday with the caption, "I'm outside the Ecuadorian Embassy about to read the Internet to … Julian Assange," per the Washington Post. He then did just that. (More Julian Assange stories.)

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