Julian Assange arrested at Ecuadorian embassy in London
WikiLeaks founder arrested for alleged breach of bail at London embassy where he took refuge for seven years
Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, after the South American country withdrew asylum from the WikiLeaks founder.
Assange had been granted refuge at the embassy while on bail in the UK over sexual assault allegations against him in Sweden.
Assange, 47, spent almost seven years inside the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden. He was arrested on Thursday on a warrant issued by Westminster magistrates court on 29 June 2012 when he failed to surrender to the court.
The Metropolitan police said: “He has been taken into custody at a central London police station where he will remain, before being presented before Westminster magistrates court as soon as is possible.
“The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] had a duty to execute the warrant, on behalf of Westminster magistrates court, and was invited into the embassy by the ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.”
Assange was shouting and gesticulating as he was carried out of the embassy in handcuffs by seven men and put into a waiting Met police van, video footage showed. He appeared to be carrying a book.
Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, said on Twitter: “In a sovereign decision, Ecuador withdrew the asylum status to Julian Assange after his repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols.”
But WikiLeaks said Moreno had acted illegally in terminating Assange’s political asylum “in violation of international law”.
June 2010 – October 2010
WikiLeaks releases about 470,000 classified military documents concerning American diplomacy and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It later releases a further tranche of more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.
A Swedish prosecutor issues a European arrest warrant for Assange over sexual assault allegations involving two Swedish women. Assange denies the claims.
He turns himself in to police in London and is placed in custody. He is later released on bail and calls the Swedish allegations a smear campaign.
A British judge rules that Assange can be extradited to Sweden. Assange fears Sweden will hand him over to US authorities who could prosecute him.
He takes refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He requests, and is later granted, political asylum.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention says Assange has been 'arbitrarily detained' and should be able to claim compensation from Britain and Sweden. Britain and Sweden rebuff the non-binding ruling.
Assange is questioned in a two-day interview over the allegations at the Ecuadorian embassy by Swedish authorities.
WikiLeaks says Assange could travel to the United States to face investigation if his rights are 'guaranteed'. It comes after one of the site's main sources of leaked documents, Chelsea Manning, is given clemency.
Nigel Farage is spotted visiting the Ecuadorian embassy.
Swedish prosecutors say they have closed their seven-year sex assault investigation into Assange. British police say they would still arrest him if he leaves the embassy as he breached the terms of his bail in 2012.
Britain refuses Ecuador's request to accord Assange diplomatic status, which would allow him to leave the embassy without being arrested.
He loses a bid to have his British arrest warrant cancelled on health grounds.
Ecuador cuts off Assange's internet access alleging he broke an agreement on interfering in other countries' affairs.
US prosecutors inadvertently disclose the existence of a sealed indictment against Assange.
2 April 2019
Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno says Assange has 'repeatedly violated' the conditions of his asylum at the embassy.
11 April 2019
Police arrest Assange at the embassy after his asylum was withdrawn.
The British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, tweeted: “Julian Assange is no hero and no one is above the law. He has hidden from the truth for years. Thank you Ecuador and President Lenín Moreno for your cooperation with the Foreign Office to ensure Assange faces justice.”
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, added: “Nearly seven years after entering the Ecuadorian embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK. I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation the Metropolitan police for its professionalism. No one is above the law.”
Assange’s arrest comes a day after WikiLeaks accused the Ecuadorian government of an “extensive spying operation” against him.
WikiLeaks claims meetings with lawyers and a doctor inside the embassy over the past year were secretly filmed.
Assange had refused to leave the embassy, claiming he would be extradited to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks if he did so.
Assange claimed that if he was extradited to Sweden he might be arrested by the US and face charges relating to the publication of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks.
The journalist and Assange supporter John Pilger called last week for people to “fill the street outside the embassy and protect him and show solidarity with a courageous man”.
US authorities have never officially confirmed that they have charged Assange, but in November 2018 a mistake in a document filed in an unrelated case hinted that criminal charges might have been prepared in secret.
The court filing, submitted apparently in error by US prosecutors, mentioned criminal charges against someone named “Assange” even though that was not the name of the defendant. Legal analysts said the error was likely to have been caused by prosecutors copying and pasting from sealed documents.
The relationship between Assange and his hosts at the embassy has soured over the years. In March 2018, Assange’s internet access was cut off and he was forbidden from having visitors.
The Ecuadorian president had said Assange had “repeatedly violated” the conditions of his asylum in his country’s London embassy.
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