U.S. Urged Ecuador to Act Against WikiLeaks Leader Assange
Ecuador’s government said Tuesday it had partly restricted internet access for Assange, the founder of anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, who has lived in the South American country’s London embassy for more than four years. A source familiar with the situation says the Ecuadoran government has been frustrated with Assange and his presence at the embassy in London for months and has been considering how best to proceed.
The action came after U.S. officials conveyed their conclusion that Assange is a willing participant in a Russian intelligence operation to undermine the U.S. presidential election, NBC News has learned. U.S. intelligence officials believe Assange knows he is getting the information from Russian intelligence, though they do not believe he is involved in helping plan the hacking, officials told NBC.
“The general view is he is a willing participant in the Russian scheme but not an active plotter in it. They just realized they could use him,” said a senior intelligence official.
WikiLeaks has been posting the private emails of Clinton adviser John Podesta and other Democratic officials that the U.S. says were hacked by, or on behalf of, Russian intelligence agencies. WikiLeaks said Assange’s internet access was cut off Sunday. In a statement, Ecuador said the decision was its own.
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