March 29 (UPI) — The Ecuadorian Embassy in London has decided to shut off Internet access to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying his use of social media is harming the South American country’s international relations.
Assange, who has lived at the embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations and other charges in the United States, has used social media to voice his thoughts on politics and corruption. Monday, for example, he called the expulsion of Russian diplomats from countries around the world, including Britain and the United States, “poor diplomacy.”
“That 21 U.S. allies have expelled diplomats over an unresolved event in the U.K. and that the U.S. expelled nearly three times as many diplomats as the U.K., the alleged victim country, helps the Kremlin further a narrative that it is under conspiratorial siege led by the U.S.,” he wrote on Twitter.
Ecuador said Assange’s tweets violate an agreement in which the embassy would give him political asylum, but mandates that he refrain from issuing “messages that supposed an interference in relation to other states.”
“The government of Ecuador warns that the behavior of Assange, with his messages through social networks, puts at risk the good relations the country maintains with the United Kingdom, with the rest of the states of the European Union and other nations,” the government said in a statement Wednesday.
Though Sweden dropped its rape charges against Assange, the whistleblower has refused to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in Britain, saying he fears extradition to the United States over a bail breach.
Assange could face charges in the United States that include espionage, conspiracy and theft over the publication of classified U.S. documents on WikiLeaks.
In December, Assange was granted Ecuadorean citizenship after applying for it months earlier. Ecuador Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said Assange would not leave the embassy without security guarantees because he has received threats on his life. She added that the Ecuadorian government is seeking a “dignified and just” solution in his case with the British government.
In February, a British judge upheld an arrest warrant for Assange if he leaves the embassy. His lawyer sought to have the warrant dropped, citing his client’s need for medical attention for a bad tooth and depression.