- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by British police at the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday morning.
- There has been a warrant issued for him since June 2012, but he has been able to avoid arrest because Ecuador granted him asylum and housed him in its London embassy for almost seven years.
- On Thursday, Ecuador revoked his asylum. The country said its patience with him “reached its limit”, and alleged a litany of bad behavior.
- The US requested his extradition, London police reported. The US is accusing him of “computer related offenses,” the UK Home Office said.
- WikiLeaks was involved inpublishing sensitive US military documents from Chelsea Manning in 2010, and Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 presidential elections.
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Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, was arrested by British police at the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday morning after having his asylum dramatically revoked.
The London Metropolitan Police entered Ecuador’s diplomatic base in West London on Thursday morning and took Assange into custody.
Video footage showed a heavily-bearded Assange being forcibly removed from the embassy and placed into a police van. He is due to appear in court soon.
Assange’s lawyer and representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
— Barnaby Nerberka (@barnabynerberka)April 11, 2019
The US has also asked to extradite Assange, London police said in a statement. The UK Home Office said in a statementthat the US had accused him of “of computer related offenses.” A spokesman for the Home Office declined to provide further details.
Over the past year, prosecutors are said to have discussed a variety of charges they could bring against Assange and are reportedly optimistic that they could get Assange into a US court.
The US’ push came as Assange’s relationship with Ecuador was in decline, and as the South American country is looking to bolster its relationship with the US.
The DOJ has been investigating Assange since 2010, and according to The Wall Street Journal, while the exact charges prosecutors want to bring against him are unclear, they may involve the Espionage Act.
Assange and WikiLeaks are at the center of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election.
In an indictment charging 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking into the Democratic National Committee and disseminating stolen emails, Mueller’s office mentioned WikiLeaks – though not by name – as the Russians’ conduit to release hacked documents via the hacker Guccifer 2.0, who is believed to be a front for Russian military intelligence.
WikiLeaks touts itself as an independent organization, but US intelligence believes the group to be a propaganda tool for the Kremlin. Former CIA director Mike Pompeo also characterized WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”
The Journal reported that prosecutors were weighing whether to publicly charge Assange, like they did with the Russian nationals who have so far been indicted as part of the Russia probe, to force the Ecuadorean embassy to turn him over to the US.
Foto: Robert Mueller.sourceWin McNamee/Getty Images
Ecuador announced the removal of Assange’s asylum in avideo posted on Twitter, in which Ecuador’s president said the country’s patience had “reached its limit.”
President Lenín Moreno said in the video: “The patience of Ecuador has reached its limit on the behavior of Mr Assange.” He said that Assange installed electronic equipment prohibited in the embassy, mistreated security guards, and accessed the embassy’s security files during his stay, which lasted six years and nine months.
— Comunicación Ecuador (@ComunicacionEc)April 11, 2019
There has been a warrant issued for Assange’s arrest since June 29, 2012, after he failed to appear in court to face charges of sexual misconduct in Sweden, which he denies.
Though Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation against him in 2017, he also faced arrest for breaching former bail conditions in the UK.
But Assange, an Australian national, had been able to avoid arrest because Ecuador granted him asylum in June 2012. He has been living in its embassy in west London since then.
Foto: Assange giving a press conference at the Ecuadorian embassy in May 2017.sourceAssociated Press
WikiLeakssaid last weekthat a “high level source within the Ecuadorian state” had said that Assange would be expelled within “hours to days,” and that it had already agreed to let the UK arrest Assange.
Assange is currently in custody at a central London police station and will be taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court “as soon as is possible,” the Metropolitan Policesaid in a statement.
Sajid Javid, the UK Home Secretary, confirmed news of Assange’s arrestin a tweet, adding: “No one is above the law.”
Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower, tweeted that the Wikileaks founder’s arrest was a “dark moment for press freedom.”
Former “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson, who is a high-profile supporter and confidante of Assange, tweeted that she was “in shock” and slammed Ecuador and Britain for facilitating the arrest.
And the USA ?
This toxic coward of a President
He needs to rally his base? –
You are selfish and cruel.
You have taken the entire world backwards.
You are devils and liars and thieves.
And you will ROTT
WE WILL RISE ✊
— Pamela Anderson (@pamfoundation)April 11, 2019