December 10, 2019
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WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrested In London After Ecuador Terminates His Political Asylum

The 47-year-old Australian national has been holed up in a back room of the Ecuador embassy in central London for nearly seven years for fear of being extradited to the US.

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrested In London After Ecuador Terminates His Political Asylum
WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange being bodily removed from the Ecuador embassy in London after it terminated his asylum
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WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrested In London After Ecuador Terminates His Political Asylum
outlookindia.com
2019-04-11T20:25:36+0530

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Thursday after he was refused asylum granted to him for seven years.

He had taken refuge there to avoid extradition to Sweden in a sexual assault case that has since been dropped.

The 47-year-old Australian national has been holed up in a back room of the Ecuador embassy in central London for nearly seven years now, for fear of being extradited to the US, where he faces a possible death sentence or torture for WikiLeaks' alleged leak of secrets.

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced Assange was arrested pursuant to the U.S./U.K. extradition treaty "in connection with a federal charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer."

Unsealed court documents reveal the charge relates to Assange's alleged "conspiracy" with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst turned whistleblower Chelsea Manning to hack into U.S. Department of Defense computers in March 2010, in "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States," ABC news reported.

Carlos Poveda, Assange's lawyer in Ecuador, confirmed to ABC News that Assange had also been arrested on a U.S. extradition request. He also claimed the arrest contravened international conventions on human rights.

WikiLeaks claimed the U.S. extradition request concerned Assange's "conspiracy with Chelsea Manning" for publishing material related to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, the organization wrote on Twitter.

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.

Scotland Yard confirmed the arrest and said its officers had executed a warrant against Assange, dating back to June 2012, for breach of bail conditions.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said that Assange was detained "on a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates' Court on June 29, 2012, for failing to surrender to the court", and added that he will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court "as soon as is possible".

WikiLeaks in its response to the arrest, accused Ecuador of “illegally” terminating Assange’s “political asylum in violation of international law," as per the report by CNBC.

“Julian Assange did not ‘walk out of the embassy’. The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested,” WikiLeaks said in another tweet.

Ecuador's President, Lenin Moreno said it withdrew Assange's asylum after his repeated violations to international conventions.

In 2012, Assange claimed that if he was extradited to Sweden, he might be arrested by the US and face charges relating to WikiLeaks's publication of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables.

Scotland Yard said in a statement that it was invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government's withdrawal of asylum.

"The MPS 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," a Met Police statement said.

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted, "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 & metpoliceuk for its professionalism. No one is above the law."

UK Foreign Minister Alan Duncan said the arrest followed "extensive dialogue between our two countries".

Edward Joseph Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked classified documents on US  surveillance program around the world in 2013, tweeted in response to Assange's arrest. 

 

US authorities never officially confirmed that they 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 Swedish woman, who alleged that she was raped by Julian Assange during a visit to Stockholm in 2010 welcomed his arrest.
 
Elisabeth Massi Fritz, who represents the unnamed woman, said news of Assange's arrest was "a shock to my client" and something "we have been waiting and hoping for since 2012".

Ms Massi Fritz said in a text message sent to the Associated Press, that "we are going to do everything" to have the Swedish case reopened "so Assange can be extradited to Sweden and prosecuted for rape".
 
Prime Minister Theresa May also welcomed the arrest of Julian Assange for breach of bail with open arms.
 
"I'm sure the whole House will welcome the news this morning that the Metropolitan Police have arrested Julian Assange, arrested for breach of bail after nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy," she told the Commons.
 
"This is now a legal matter before the courts... This goes to show that in the UK nobody is above the law," she added.
 
(With inputs from agencies)
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