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Ecuador is cutting off Julian Assange's communications

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By Daniel Arkin and Associated Press  with NBC News World News
Image: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stands on the balcony of the Ecuado
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stands on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy prior to speaking in London on May 19, 2017.   -   Copyright  Matt Dunham

QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador's government is cutting off WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's communications outside the nation's London embassy.

Officials announced Wednesday they were taking the measure in response to Assange's recent activity on social media.

As part of an agreement between Assange and the Ecuadorean government, he is not permitted to send any messages that could interfere with the South American nation's relations with other countries.

Assange has been living in Ecuador's embassy for more than five years.

Ecuador gave Assange asylum after he sought refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden for investigation of sex-related claims. Sweden dropped the case, but Assange remains subject to arrest in Britain for jumping bail.

Though protected by Ecuador, the relationship between Assange and nation's leaders has at times been strained. Ecuador has repeatedly urged Assange not to interfere in the affairs of other countries following his frequent online comments on international issues.

The biggest crisis came in October 2016, when theembassy cut his internet service after WikiLeaks published a trove of emails from then-U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign.

He was also a point of contention in Ecuador's 2017 presidential election when Conservative candidate Guillermo Lasso pledged to evict the Australian within 30 days of taking office, while current President Lenin Moreno said he would allow him to stay. Assange later taunted after Lasso's loss that he would "cordially invite Lasso to leave Ecuador within 30 days."

Moreno issued a warning reminding Assange not to meddle in politics — he has also called Assange a hacker.