Enlarge / WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares to speak from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy on February 5, 2016 in London, England.

Today, he can’t get online.Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images
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WikiLeaks announced via its Twitter account this morning that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s Internet connection had been cut off, blaming a “state party” for the outage.

Assange, who has been ensconced in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since he sought asylum there over four years ago to avoid extradition, has been “detained in absentia” by the Swedish government for questioning on allegations of rape. Other lesser allegations have been dropped because they have passed the time allowed by Sweden’s statute of limitations.
The announcement comes after the postponement of an interview of Assange by Swedish authorities at the Ecuadorian embassy by Ecuador’s Attorney General’s office.

The interview, which was to take place today, was pushed back by Ecuador until November 17 “to make it possible for Assange’s lawyer to attend.”
WikiLeaks also announced that it had “activated the appropriate contingency plans” in response to the communication outage.

That plan may be related to other posts made from the WikiLeaks account overnight referring to three “precommitments”—one regarding the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (UK FOS), one labeled “John Kerry,” and one labeled “Ecuador.” The posts included long alphanumeric strings that may have been encryption keys for files already prepositioned on the Internet.
“Precommitment” is a term often associated with the concept of a “dead man’s switch”—an automated response to an attack that would otherwise leave the target unable to respond, usually intended as a deterrent. It’s possible that Assange made arrangements for a “dead man’s switch” release of content about the UK Foreign Office, Ecuador and Secretary of State John Kerry that were intended to prevent them from taking action against him at the embassy.
If the code associated with the three “precommitments” are in fact cryptographic keys, then that “dead man’s switch” has been activated by Wikileaks.
In addition to the recent leaks of e-mails from the Gmail account of John Podesta, a high-ranking official within Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and the publishing of files obtained from the Democratic National Committee breach, WikiLeaks has issued “bounties” for leaks from the UK’s Labour Party leadership.

Both leaks have been alleged by US officials to have been executed at the direction of the Russian government.
Assange’s Internet “intentionally severed by state party”
Enlarge / “Precommitment” posts from WikiLeaks.
Coincidentally, the Russian government-funded news organization RT, operated by TV-Novosti, published a report that RT’s accounts in the United Kingdom had been “blocked.” That report included a redacted image of a letter from Royal Bank of Scotland unit NatWest stating, “We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities. You will therefore need to make banking arrangements outside of the The Royal Bank if Scotland Group.” The letter said that accounts would be shut down by December.
RT has broadcast a show by Assange in the past and has faced sanctions for violation of UK and European broadcast standards, particularly for its coverage of the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Ars will update this story as more details become available.

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