WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s isolation deepens

The Wall Street Journal reports: Ecuador’s pulling the plug on Julian Assange’s internet connection highlighted the isolation of WikiLeaks, the organization he founded to expose the inner workings of governments and other powerful institutions.

Ecuador said Tuesday that it restricted access to private communications at its embassy in the United Kingdom, where Mr. Assange lives, on concerns that he was meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

In a statement, the Foreign Relations Ministry said the decision to cut off communications at its embassy was to prevent interference in the “internal affairs of other states.”

Some former allies and observers say that after four years confined to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, Mr. Assange is alienating former supporters and undermining WikiLeaks’ relevance. They cite a series of leaks that they say supported Russian efforts to disrupt the U.S. election and carelessly promoted Turkish government documents exposing the personal information of thousands of ordinary citizens.

WikiLeaks “has pioneered open government but has now gone off the rails in a way that damages the global transparency movement,” said Alex Howard, a senior analyst at the Sunlight Foundation, a group once sympathetic to Wikileaks that backs open-government efforts in the U.S.

WikiLeaks’ relationship with Russia has come under particular scrutiny lately after the release of thousands of documents from the Democratic National Committee and allies of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. U.S. government officials have accused Russia of conducting those intrusions as part of an effort to influence the U.S. election. Computer-security firm Kaspersky Labs ZAO said another set of documents published on WikiLeaks, known as the Saudi Cables, most likely came from the same hackers who breached the DNC.

There is no evidence of collusion between Russia and WikiLeaks, said Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. “However, Assange has made it very clear that he’s willing to be a useful idiot for any intelligence service, as long as it furthers his own agenda,” he said. [Continue reading…]

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