Julian Assange was electronically muzzled Wednesday when Ecuadorian officials cut off his internet access for using social media to interfere “with other countries' matters.”
This is the second time in two years the Wikileaks founder, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost six years, has had his online access restricted.
“The government of Ecuador has suspended all systems that allow Julian Assange to communicate outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London," a statement read.
Ecuadorian authorities said they took the decision because Assange broke a written agreement signed at the end of 2017 in which he promised not to release “any messages that would interfere with other countries' matters.”
The statement added that Assange’s action “puts in risk the good relationship the country has with the U.K., other EU countries and other nations.”
While Ecuador hasn’t specified what triggered the move, the decision appears to have been taken after Assange tweeted about the detention of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont in Germany.
However, WikiLeaks claimed Thursday that Assange’s internet was cut over a tweet he shared that included a link to an article about interactions between Italy's Hacking Team and Ecuador's SENAIN intelligence agency.
The move prompted a strong backlash among Assange’s coterie of backers. Filmmaker Oliver Stone tweeted: “Urgent. Free Assange! Restore his internet connection.”
Journalist Glenn Greenwald said the move “makes a mockery of asylum” and that Ecuador is now “depicting itself as rather subservient to the West.”
The #reconnectjulian hashtag trended on Twitter Wednesday, thanks to the efforts of Kim Dotcom, the internet entrepreneur who has been fighting extradition to the U.S. since his arrest for internet-piracy in 2012.
Dotcom even held an online vigil on YouTube.
Cover image: Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy Of Ecuador on May 19, 2017 in London, England. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)