Ecuador confirmed that it had "temporarily restricted" the Internet access of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its embassy in London, stating that it believed the connection was used to interfere in the upcoming US presidential election.
The incident follows a steady trickle of leaked emails published by the whistleblowing outfit including thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in July and the recent trove of emails from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign adviser John Podesta's account.
In a statement, Ecuador's government has said that while it stands by its decision to grant political asylum to Assange in 2012 based on legitimate fears of political prosecution due to his activities as head of WikiLeaks, it does respect other nations' sovereignty and does not interfere in foreign elections.
"In recent weeks, WikiLeaks has published a wealth of documents, impacting on the US election campaign. This decision was taken exclusively by that organisation," the Foreign Relations Ministry said. "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 favour 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 organisation from carrying out its journalistic activities."
It also added that "Ecuador does not cede to pressures from other countries."
Following the outage over the weekend, WikiLeaks accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of asking Ecuador to stop Assange from publishing more Clinton documents during the FARC peace negotiations, citing "multiple US sources." The organization claimed the request was made on the sidelines of a visit by Kerry and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to Colombia in September.
The claims sparked multiple conspiracy theories surrounding the Podesta email leaks, WikiLeaks' outage, the alleged banking block of state-funded Russian broadcaster RT as well as theories that Julian Assange has died.
The US State Department has denied the accusation.
"While our concerns about WikiLeaks are longstanding, any suggestion that Secretary Kerry or the State Department were involved in shutting down is false," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. "Reports that Secretary Kerry had conversations with Ecuadorean officials about this are simply untrue. Period."
In September, Correa told RT that "for the good of the United States and the world, and for my personal appreciation of her, I'd like to see Hillary win."
Meanwhile on Tuesday, WikiLeaks released yet another batch of emails allegedly from Podesta's account - the 11th installation in a series of leaks offering a glimpse into the inner workings of the Clinton campaign. Clinton's camp has not yet verified the authenticity of the emails and documents released so far.
However, the Clinton campaign has accused Russia of directing the hacks into the DNC's network and Podesta's emails. Earlier this month, Washington formally accused Moscow for the recent series of breaches targeted the DNC and other US political organisations in an attempt to interfere in the November election. The Kremlin has denied the allegations and brushed off threats of retaliation as campaign rhetoric.
Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden for alleged rape and sexual assault allegations in 2010. The Australian national said he fears extradition to the US on espionage charges based on the publication of damaging documents given to the website by Chelsea Manning. He has been residing at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012.