What's going on with Julian Assange and the Ecuadorean embassy?

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says his hosts at the Ecuadorean Embassy cut off his internet access. Why?

Alastair Grant/AP
The Ecuadorian national emblem attached to railings outside their London Embassy, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says his hosts at the Ecuadorean Embassy abruptly cut him off from the internet.

Rumors of Julian Assange’s death have been greatly exaggerated, but the Wikileaks founder truly is without internet after a “state party” severed his internet connection at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Mr. Assange has been living in the Ecuadorean embassy for four years, ever since rape allegations threatened to cause him to be extradited him to Sweden. Assange and his supporters say they believe that the charges are a pretense to bring him to trial in the United States for leaking diplomatic cables.

Ecuador says that it remains committed to its decision to grant Assange asylum.

"Faced with the speculation of the last few hours, the Government of Ecuador ratifies the validity of the asylum granted to Julian Assange four years ago,” wrote the foreign ministry in a statement, adding that:

"His protection by the Ecuadorean state will continue while the circumstances that led to the granting of asylum remain."

When Wikileaks first sent out a series of three cryptic tweets with lines of what looked to be code, rumors abounded as to the fate of founder Assange.

Speculation alleged that the coded tweets were “dead-man’s code,” information that would leak all of Wikileaks’ document trove should Assange meet an untimely end.

Both Wikileaks and the Ecuadorean embassy, however, say that Assange is alive and well. Not so alive, however, is his internet connection, which was severed by what Wikileaks was first calling a “state party.”

Then late yesterday, the group posted in a message to Twitter: "We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange's internet access Saturday, 5pm GMT, shortly after publication of Clinton's Goldman Sachs [speeches]."

If Ecuador is continuing to protect Assange, why sever his internet connection?

All parties involved remain remarkably close lipped about the incident. While the Wikileaks Twitter account remains active, organization officials were unavailable for comment to The New York Times.

Although Assange has by all accounts lived a fairly comfortable life at the Ecuadorean embassy, with all of his daily needs supplied, there are nevertheless reports that the Wikileaks founder’s personal interactions with embassy personnel have been less than smooth.

The New York Times reports that some embassy employees, particularly women, are uncomfortable interacting with Assange.

In 2012, Assange and embassy security personnel engaged in a “violent” confrontation after work hours, BuzzFeed reports.

Others say that it seems likely that the decision to sever Assange’s internet connection is connected to the impending release of more documents related to the presidential election and Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Despite speculation, however, it remains unclear as to exactly why the Ecuadorean embassy would cut off Assange’s internet access.

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