US denies telling Ecuador to cut off Assange’s internet

FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2016 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange participates via video link at a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of the secrecy-spilling group in Berlin. WikiLeaks said on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, that Assange's internet access has been cut by an unidentified state actor. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department is denying a claim by WikiLeaks that the U.S. government was involved in cutting off internet access for the group’s founder, Julian Assange.

He has said his hosts at Ecuador’s embassy in London cut him off from the internet over the weekend as he was releasing a series of damaging disclosures about Hillary Clinton.

The group claims that Secretary of State John Kerry had personally intervened to get Ecuador to stop Assange from publishing documents about Clinton. The State Department says that’s “simply untrue.”

Wikileaks says the request from Kerry came on the sidelines of negotiations that took place last month in Colombia. But a State Department spokesman says Kerry never even raised the issue or met with Ecuador’s president during his visit to Colombia.

Assange has been taking refuge at the embassy for more than four years after skipping bail to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crimes allegations.

Even though his own internet access is down, WikiLeaks today released another collection of emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. It’s a sign that the group’s ability to publish has not yet been compromised.