On 17 October 2016, the document leaking organization WikiLeaks posted an announcement on Twitter that its founder, Julian Assange, had his Internet access cut off by Ecuador. (Assange, who has been granted political asylum by Ecuador, has been living in that country’s London embassy since 2012.) That same day, the liberal blog Daily Kos published a story that drew a connection between Assange’s losing his Internet access and an accusation from an online dating site that Assange had used their platform to inappropriately contact an underage girl.
The Ecuadorian government has acknowledged that they “temporarily restricted” Assange’s online access because they “respect the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states” but denied claims that they had acted at the behest of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry:
Ecuador granted political asylum to Julian Assange in 2012 based on his legitimate fears of political persecution because of his journalistic activities as the editor of WikiLeaks.
In recent weeks, WikiLeaks has published a wealth of documents, impacting on the U.S. election campaign. This decision was taken exclusively by that organization.
The Government of Ecuador respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. It does not interfere in external electoral processes, nor does it favor any particular candidate.
Accordingly, Ecuador has exercised its sovereign right to temporarily restrict access to some of its private communications network within its Embassy in the United Kingdom. This temporary restriction does not prevent the WikiLeaks organization from carrying out its journalistic activities.
Ecuador, in accordance with its tradition of defending human rights and protecting the victims of political persecution, reaffirms the asylum granted to Julian Assange and reiterates its intention to safeguard his life and physical integrity until he reaches a safe place.
Ecuador’s foreign policy responds to sovereign decisions alone and does not yield to pressure from other states.
One of the stranger speculations about the reason for the restriction came from the Daily Kos story, which was based on a document reportedly filed by a U.S.-based dating web site, Todd & Clare, on 4 October 2016. Todd & Clare, which also goes by T&C Network Solutions, was a member of the United Nations Global Compact, a voluntary business collective committed to promoting sound practices, sustainability and human rights. The report filed by the company accusing Assange of pedophilia got Todd & Clare kicked out of the Global Compact for violating the organization’s rules.
The UNGC’s Margaret Fenwick told us:
The document that ToddandClare.com reference is not a UN report. It was produced by ToddandClare.com, and solely represents their views. This document was removed from the UN Global Compact website for violating our integrity measures.
As of 12 October 2016, T&C Network Solutions (operating ToddandClare.com) is no longer a participant of the UN Global Compact. The company was removed from the initiative for violating our Integrity Measures, including misuse of our name and logo. We are not a party to the dispute between ToddandClare.com and Julian Assange.
In the document, the owners of the Todd & Clare made the ludicrous-sounding claim that Assange, who was been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012 to avoid sexual assault charges leveled in Sweden in 2012, had been contracted as an ambassador for KATIA, an anti-rape software system that supposedly helps single women screen potential dates who may pose a danger to them.
Todd & Clare’s owners claim that as of October 2016 they have filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Assange in United Kingdom, after being made aware that police in the Bahamas were investigating accusations made by a Canadian father that Assange used Todd&Clare.com to send his 8-year-old daughter pornographic material. They also claim Assange and WikiLeaks have threatened them unless they drop the case.
Stephen Dean, assistant commissioner of the Royal Bahama Police Force, told us they received a phone call making allegations against Assange, but as of yet, no complainant has come forward:
The reality is we got a phone call, an anonymous person called us on the phone. We tried to get the complainant to come in, but there was no one physically, so we don’t have no details. We don’t know if it’s a hoax. In the absence of someone coming forward, we really don’t have anything.
WikiLeaks’ response to the Daily Kos was to assert that an “unknown entity” had “posed as an internet dating agency” as part of an “elaborate plot” to frame Assange for sexually molesting an eight year old girl and for supposedly receiving $1 million from the Russian government:
An unknown entity posing as an internet dating agency prepared an elaborate plot to falsely claim that Julian Assange received US$1M from the Russian government and a second plot to frame him sexually molesting an eight year old girl.
The second plot includes the filing of a fabricated criminal complaint in the Bahamas, a court complaint in the UK and laundering part of the attack through the United Nations.
While the accusations being leveled on both sides seem outlandish, the original claim posted by the Daily Kos that Assange lost his Internet connection due to a pedophilia investigation wasn’t based on any evidence other than the uncorroborated accusation issued under the name of Todd & Clare and some unsupported speculation.
As of the evening of 18 October 2016, the Daily Kos had removed the article from their site.