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Is WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange’s London Embassy Asylum Nearing its End? Ecuador decides to temporarily cut his Internet Access

WikiLeaks accused Clinton's successor at the State Department, John Kerry, of personally petitioning Ecuador to cut Assange's internet access

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The Ecuadoran national emblem is attached to railings outside the country's embassy in London, Oct. 18, 2016. British officials have long expressed frustration at Ecuador's decision to let WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange take refuge in the embassy. VOA
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Ecuador’s decision to temporarily cut Julian Assange’s internet access is a sign that the WikiLeaks founder could be overstaying his welcome at the country’s London embassy — or so some in Britain hope.

British officials have long expressed frustration at Ecuador’s decision four years ago to let Assange take refuge in the embassy to escape arrest on sexual assault charges he faces in Sweden.

“I do hope that this is the precursor to them coming to their senses and finally forcing this man to face justice in the way that he should,” said Davis Lewin, a political analyst at London’s Henry Jackson Society think tank.

The Quito government confirmed it cut Assange’s internet access Tuesday to prevent him from meddling in the U.S. election, after WikiLeaks published documents and messages hacked from the presidential campaign of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

FILE - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange participates via video link in a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of the anti-secrecy group in Berlin, Germany, Oct. 4, 2016. VOA
FILE – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange participates via video link in a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of the anti-secrecy group in Berlin, Germany, Oct. 4, 2016. VOA

Matter of principle

“The government of Ecuador respects the principle of nonintervention in the affairs of other countries does not interfere in current elections, nor does it support any candidate in particular,” said a statement by the Ecuadoran Foreign Ministry.

The emails that WikiLeaks disclosed suggest that Clinton’s campaign worked to discredit a woman who accused her husband, former President Bill Clinton, of rape.

WikiLeaks accused Clinton’s successor at the State Department, John Kerry, of personally petitioning Ecuador to cut Assange’s internet access. Officials in Washington have rejected the charge and strenuously denied that Kerry was involved in any way.

How Ecuador reached its decision to sever Assange’s internet connections is unclear, nor has there been any indication of how long the “temporary” change in his status will remain in effect. However, analysts say it is a sign that Ecuadoran officials do not regard their longtime guest as positively as they did in 2012, when he first arrived at their embassy in London’s upscale Knightsbridge district.

Honored guest

At the time, Ecuador’s left-leaning president, Rafael Correa, treated Assange as an honored guest. Correa joined with the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez in lambasting the U.S. and Western policies and presenting Assange as a champion of democracy and free speech.

FILE - Ecuador's President Rafael Correa waves prior to a governmental ceremony in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 10, 2015. Correa recently expressed admiration for Hillary Clinton and said he hoped she wins the U.S. presidential election. VOA
FILE – Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa waves prior to a governmental ceremony in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 10, 2015. Correa recently expressed admiration for Hillary Clinton and said he hoped she wins the U.S. presidential election. VOA

Recently, however, Correa told an interviewer that if he were American, he would vote for Clinton. “I know her personally and I have great appreciation for her,” he said. “For the good of the United States and the good of the world, I’d want Hillary to win.”

WikiLeaks’ supporters, including some high-profile figures, are occasionally seen outside the embassy. Canadian-American actress and model Pamela Anderson expressed concern for Assange’s health and was seen this week delivering a vegan meal to him.

But analysts say Assange’s fortunes appear to be changing as the political climate in Latin America and much of the rest of the world shifts.

Leftists disillusioned

Correa’s term is about to end and Venezuela’s economic failures have disillusioned many Latin American leftists.

In Britain, critics dispute any notion that Assange’s practice of leaking confidential or secret documents reflects a true commitment to democratic values.

Some, like Davis Lewin, see a troubling double standard in Assange’s crusade.

“One has to ask: Why is it only anti-American? Why is it only disclosures that hurt Western institutions, Western political leaders?” Lewin asked. “One has to wonder why it is that Assange has never done anything to hurt Russian interests. And I think the answer is, people will have to make up their own minds about that.” (VOA)

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  • Kenneth Dreger

    And if you really think that the US had NOTHING to do with this happening I have some really good swamp land here that is for sale at a really great price! Wow…….just amazing that the media wants us all to think that the US had nothing to do with this! Wow….

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google's new tool can help you make our planet healthy. Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?