Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrested in London

Following withdrawal of asylum by Ecuadorian government, he was arrested for alleged breach of bail

Photo: EPA A police van outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain

On Thursday morning Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder was granted refuge in 2012 while on bail in the UK over sexual assault allegations against him in Sweden. Assange, 47, who has spent almost seven years at the embassy after seeking refuge there to avoid extradition to Sweden, was detained after the Ecuadorian government withdrew his asylum.

He was held on a warrant issued by Westminster magistrates court on 29 June 2012 when he failed to surrender to the court. Britain's Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, later on publicly confirmed the news.

“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,” he stated.

Newswires also presented a footage of Assange's arrest. He could be heard pleading that “the UK must resist... this attempt by the Trump administration.”

The WikiLeaks founder was first granted asylum in 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault. He hasn’t left the embassy since August 2012 for fear that if he steps off Ecuador’s diplomatic soil he will also be arrested and extradited to the US for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks. US authorities have never officially confirmed that they have charged Assange, yet in November 2018 a mistake in a document filed in an unrelated case hinted that criminal charges might have been prepared in secret.

This was revealed at a time when the relationship between Assange and his hosts began souring. His future in the embassy was in particulatly called into question last year after the new president of Ecuador Lenin Moreno revealed that he was in discussions with British authorities to end Assange's asylum. Then, in March, Assange’s internet access was cut off and he was forbidden from having visitors.

Nevertheless, the arrest comes a day after Wikileaks said it had uncovered an extensive spying operation against its co-founder at the Ecuadorean embassy. According to WikiLeaks, all the meetings with lawyers and a doctor inside the embassy over the past year were secretly filmed. Thus, on Wednesday Moreno said that while the country respects the right of asylum, “the discourteous and aggressive behavior of Mr. Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declarations of its allied organisation, against Ecuador, and especially, the transgression of international treaties” mean that “the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable.”

In the video statement, posted on Twitter, Moreno allso calls out Assange’s intervention “in the internal affairs of other states.” In January 2019 WikiLeaks released a collection of confidential Vatican documents.

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