Ecuador affirms Assange's asylum status amid internet access questions

Ecuador affirms Assange's asylum status amid internet access questions
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Ecuador is reaffirming its decision to provide protection to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, even after the anti-secrecy group alleged that the country's London embassy cut off his access to the internet.

In a statement Monday evening, Ecuador’s foreign ministry maintained that Assange’s asylum status has not changed.  

“Faced with speculation of the last hours, the government of Ecuador reaffirms the validity of granted asylum to Julian Assange four years ago,” the government said in a short statement on Twitter. “We reaffirm that the protection of the Ecuadorian state will continue while the circumstances that led to the granting of the asylum remain.”

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The statement did not address Assange’s access to the internet.

Ecuador granted Assange asylum status four years ago and has allowed him to live in its London embassy in order to avoid rape charges in Sweden. Assange has claimed that the charges are a ruse to trap him and have him extradited to the U.S., even though Washington has not filed issued an indictment against the transparency activist.

Assange’s situation appeared to become more complicated this week when, in the midst of a series of releases of emails allegedly stolen from a top aide to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRetired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Retired admiral who oversaw bin Laden raid doubles down on Trump criticism Trump dismisses criticism from Navy SEAL who led Osama bin Laden mission MORE, WikiLeaks declared that Assange had lost access to the internet.

“We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange's internet access Saturday, 5pm GMT, shortly after publication of Clinton's Goldman Sachs speechs [sic],” the organization said on Twitter.

Officials from WikiLeaks and Ecuador have both declined to shed additional light on the new apparent tension.

Assange has not stepped foot outside of the embassy since 2012, so any change of heart by the country could leaved him imperiled.  

Over the last week and a half, WikiLeaks has published allegedly stolen emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta on a near daily basis. The messages have contained embarrassing revelations about Clinton and her presidential campaign.

Over the weekend, shortly before Assange’s internet access is said to have been suspended, WikiLeaks released transcripts of three paid speeches Clinton gave to Goldman Sachs.