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Julian Assange Just Got His Internet Privileges Revoked

No more will the WikiLeaks founder be able to tweet or send other messages from inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Last updated on March 28, 2018, at 5:23 p.m. ET

Posted on March 28, 2018, at 1:15 p.m. ET

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has had his ability to communicate with the outside world cut off, the Ecuadorian government announced Wednesday.

Assange, an Australian who was granted Ecuadorian citizenship earlier this year, has been camped out in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the last six years, where he initially took refuge from being extradited to Sweden on rape charges. (Swedish prosecutors dropped those charges last year, but he still faces arrest in the UK.) Since then, he has been something of a thorn in the embassy's side, with not infrequent clashes between Assange and embassy staff.
Justin Tallis / AFP / Getty Images

Assange, an Australian who was granted Ecuadorian citizenship earlier this year, has been camped out in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the last six years, where he initially took refuge from being extradited to Sweden on rape charges. (Swedish prosecutors dropped those charges last year, but he still faces arrest in the UK.) Since then, he has been something of a thorn in the embassy's side, with not infrequent clashes between Assange and embassy staff.

Ecuador said the decision came after Assange breached a written agreement signed in 2017 not to send out messages that interfere in other countries' business.

COMUNICADO OFICIAL | El Gobierno de Ecuador suspende las comunicaciones de @JulianAssange.

The measure was put into place, the statement continued, to prevent further harm to Ecuador's relations with the United Kingdom and other European Union states. It also said that Ecuador's president would remain open to adopting new measures in the face of the Assange's failure to uphold his end of the deal.

Assange had been tweeting for the last few months about the situation in Catalonia, which held a referendum on declaring independence from Spain last year.

Last October, Spanish ruling party spokesman @pablocasado_ warned President #Puigdemont that he would "end up like President Companys". Catalonia's President Companys was arrested by Germany, delivered to Spain by the Gestapo & executed by firing squad. https://t.co/n1gQcz8PVx

Assange's tweets on the Catalan vote, urging independence, were some of the most viral of the campaign. He even directly connected with campaigners, offering advice on avoiding surveillance.

Later on Wednesday, Wikileaks tweeted that Assange had indeed been blocked from communicating with the outside world based on his Catalonia tweets.

Wikileaks editor @julianassange has been gagged and isolated by order of Ecuador's new president @Lenin Moreno. He cannot tweet, speak to the press, recieve visitors or make telephone calls. Ecuador demanded that he remove the following Tweet: https://t.co/uaDAEBKtwR

One of the last tweet's sent out from Assange's account was used to rail against a UK official for saying that he should turn himself in.

As a political prisoner detained without charge for 8 years, in violation of 2 UN rulings, I suppose I must be "miserable"; yet nothing wrong with being a "little" person although I'm rather tall; and better a "worm", a healthy creature that invigorates the soil, than a snake.

This isn't the first time the embassy has cut off his internet for meddling in other countries' affairs — in October 2016, his access was blocked for WikiLeaks's role in disseminating emails stolen form US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign.

That measure, however, was at the time described as a "temporary measure" by the Ecuadorian government. There was no such qualifier in Wednesday's announcement.
Justin Tallis / AFP / Getty Images

That measure, however, was at the time described as a "temporary measure" by the Ecuadorian government. There was no such qualifier in Wednesday's announcement.

Kim Dotcom, the famed internet pirate and scam artist, tweeted that Assange's internet had been disconnected shortly before the Ecuadorians' announcement, urging people to demand "Reconnect Julian."

🚨 URGENT ASSANGE ALERT 🚨 Julian Assange has had his Internet disconnected and is not allowed any visitors If you’re in LONDON please gather immediately outside the Ecuadorian Embassy Demand “Reconnect Julian” Until Julian is back online Thank you 🚨 URGENT ASSANGE ALERT 🚨

Roughly two hours after the call went out, the movement had yet to take off.

CORRECTION

The written agreement between Assange and the Ecuadorian government stated that Ecuador’s president would remain open to adopting new measures if the agreement were breached. A previous version of this article attributed this to former president Rafael Correa, who left office in 2017.

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