Wikileaks said Tuesday that Secretary of State John Kerry asked Ecuador to stop WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, from publishing leaked emails that could disrupt peace negotiations with a guerrilla group in Colombia.
Assange, who has been in refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London for more than four years, saw his access to the internet cut over the weekend.
WikiLeaks blamed the U.S. government, saying Secretary of State John Kerry had requested the move.
“The John Kerry private meeting with Ecuador was made on the sidelines of the negotiations which took place pricipally on Sep 26 in Colombia,” WikiLeaks tweeted.
But the State Department rejected the allegation.
“While our concerns about WikiLeaks are longstanding, any suggestion that Secretary Kerry or the State Department were involved in shutting down WikiLeaks is false. Reports that Secretary Kerry had conversations with Ecuadorian officials about this are simply untrue. Period,” spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
Colombia is seeking to bring an end to a guerrilla war that has been plaguing the country for more than a half century. The two sides signed a broad agreement to end the war in late September, but Colombian voters Oct. 2 narrowly rejected the deal, leaving the process in limbo.
The Obama administration considered its role in supporting the peace talks one of its signature achievements in Latin America.
WikiLeaks has published 11 tranches this month of some 55,000 internal emails taken from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of the campaign to elect Hillary Clinton to the presidency. The tranches so far amount to less than a third of the emails.
A scan of leaked emails already on the WikiLeaks website show no exchanges of significance on the Colombian civil war.
Ecuador, Colombia’s southern neighbor, has an important stake in the Colombian peace process. Guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have used border jungle regions of Ecuador periodically as a safe haven. In March 2008, Colombia aircraft bombed a rebel encampment in Ecuador, killing the group’s second in command. U.S. covert intelligence is believed to have assisted in the attack, a turning point in the lengthy war.