Julian Assange arrested, status for ‘repeated violations’.
British police have arrested Julian Assange after Ecuador withdrew his asylum status.
The arrest was made at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has been claiming asylum since 2012. Assange was carried out of the embassy by authorities, and taken into custody at a central London police station. Assange could be heard pleading that “the UK must resist… this attempt by the Trump administration.”
Police later confirmed that Assange was “further arrested” on behalf of US authorities under an extradition warrant. “He is accused in the United States of America of computer related offences” a spokesperson for the Home Office said. The US indictment, published this morning, lists a single count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. An extradition hearing will take place at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Assange’s future in the embassy was called into question last year after the president of Ecuador said he would “eventually” have to leave the property and revealed that he was in discussions with British authorities to end his asylum. Assange was also given a new set of house rules back in October, including orders to look after his cat and avoid political interference using the embassy’s Wi-Fi. These rules followed Assange appointing Kristinn Hrafnsson to replace him as the WikiLeaks editor, following his prior lack of internet access.
WikiLeaks rose to fame in 2010 when it published a collection of classified US documents leaked by Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who shared military and diplomatic secrets.
The WikiLeaks founder was first granted asylum in 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault. Since then, he has been accused of aiding Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election by publishing over 19,000 emails stolen from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Last year 12 Russia intelligence officers were charged over the crime, one of whom was in contact with the WikiLeaks founder.
Last November it emerged that Assange is being charged over the publication of classified documents by the US Justice Department after an apparent copy-and-paste error was made in an unrelated court filing.
Last week, WikiLeaks reported that it had learned from a source within the Ecuadorian government that Assange was due to be expelled from the embassy within “hours to days.” Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry later denied these reports. When he was arrested today, Assange could be seen holding a copy of Gore Vidal’s History of the National Security State, a book about the rise of the modern military-industrial-security complex and the so-called “Imperial Presidency” in what was an apparent critique of the US government.