A campaign is underway to restore Julian Assange’s internet connection via mobile wi-fi hotspots set up by his supporters near the Ecuadorian embassy.
Things haven’t been going quite as planned for WikiLeaks’ Editor-In-Chief Julian Assange. Though WikiLeaks has continued its daily releases of John Podesta’s emails, Assange lost his connection to the outside world when Ecuador caved to US pressure and cut off his access. Assange has been arbitrarily detained for over four years in Ecuador’s London Embassy after the country offered him asylum in 2012. Ecuador continues to stand by that agreement but has said that Assange’s current work – the release of emails belonging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair – threatens to interfere with the US presidential election, something they could not allow to continue. However, WikiLeaks has said that US Secretary of State John Kerry was largely responsible for pressuring Ecuador to cut off Assange’s internet connection, a claim the State Department denies.
Yet, supporters of Assange, particularly members of 4chan and Anonymous, are working to reconnect Assange to the web. The plan, known as “Operation Hot Pockets,” involves Assange supporters gathering around the embassy, in shifts, to create mobile wireless hotspots in order to provide the WikiLeaks founder with internet access. The operation was scheduled to transpire today, though there has been no word as of yet how many people showed up or if Assange is even aware that it was set to take place. 4chan and Twitter responded enthusiastically to the idea, suggesting a decent turnout was likely.
The severance of Assange’s internet connection has had little effect on WikiLeaks’ activities. Just this morning, one of the largest releases of Podesta emails took place, bringing the total to 23,423. Assange had previously statedthat the releases would continue, even if he had to step down as editor or if something else happened to him. Assange indeed has powerful enemies in many governments, though the most vocal of those have been from the US. US officials have maintained that WikiLeaks is working with Russia and Trump to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency, despite lack of evidence for this claim. The Obama administration has promised to retaliate for the Russian “attacks.” If WikiLeaks continues to release damaging information on Clinton as planned, Assange himself could be subjected to greater retaliation and Ecuador’s commitment to protecting him could also be tested in the coming weeks.