Julian Assange lost internet access in an apparent attempt by the US government to prevent further leaks during Colombian peace negotiations.
Assange lost internet access over the weekend, prompting the release of several hashes, which initially led to some speculation that he had been killed.
Wikileaks tweeted the outage on Monday:
We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange's internet access Saturday, 5pm GMT, shortly after publication of Clinton's Goldman Sachs speechs.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 17, 2016
According to Wikileaks, Ecuador cut off access under pressure from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who sought to stop the publication of additional leaks regarding Hillary Clinton while peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC rebels were pending. At time of writing, the White House has refused to confirm or deny this.
Wikileaks announced development via tweet earlier today:
BREAKING: Multiple US sources tell us John Kerry asked Ecuador to stop Assange from publishing Clinton docs during FARC peace negotiations.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 18, 2016
Attempt to silence Wikileaks appears to have backfired
The attempt by the US government to prevent or delay the release of classified information by Wikileaks appears to have been unsuccessful, and has only served to undermine US credibility. The Podesta emails, the exchanges between Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman which has been the center of much controversy this election cycle, continues to be released as planned.
Ecuador, meanwhile, has reiterated its commitment to grant asylum to Assange. The Twitter hashtag #freejulian was created in solidarity with Wikileaks, drawing support from thousands across the globe.
Leaking government secrets is increasingly high-risk activism
Even as whistleblowers and leakers like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden perform the valuable service of government accountability, they carry with them great risk from the governments they expose. Of those three, one is in prison and two are in what looks to be permanent exile.
As of now, no major US presidential candidate has indicated a willingness to offer protections to whistleblowers. Third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein have expressed a desire to pardon Snowden and his colleagues, and although both remain a long shot even in this turbulent election year, Johnson has polled as high as 15%, and may garner millions of votes this election, paving the way for success from further third party candidates in future elections.
Last year, Assange mentioned that Wikileaks was “drowning in material” to leak to the general public, indicating that the leaks of government secrets will become an increasingly commonplace occurrence over the next few years.
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