Founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, arrested at London’s Ecuadorian embassy

Assange arrested following the withdrawal of asylum by the Ecuadorian government

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Assange being taken from the Ecuadoran embassy in London. PHOTO: Euronews

The dramatic footage of white-bearded Julian Assange being carried out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London by British police officers was captured by a camera operator from the news agency Ruptly.

Julian took refuge in the embassy nearly seven years ago to avoid being extradicted to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped. The Met Police said he was arrested for failing to surrender to the court and following a US extradition request.

Ecuador’s president said the country withdrew his asylum after repeated violations of international conventions, but Wikileaks tweeted that Ecuador had acted illegally in terminating Mr Assange’s political asylum “in violation of international law”.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK.”

Assange set up Wikileaks in 2006 with the aim of obtaining and publishing confidential documents and images. The organisation hit the headlines four years later when it released footage of US soldiers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq, as well as many other incriminating documents.

Former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was arrested in 2010 for disclosing more than 700,000 confidential documents, videos and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

Chelsea said she only did so to spark debates about foreign policy, but US officials said the leak put lives at risk.

Julian, 47, had been living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012, after seeking asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape allegation which he persistently denied. The charges were later dropped. He still faces a lesser charge of skipping bail in 2012 and he says this could lead to an extradition to the US for publishing US secrets on the Wikileaks website.

Scotland Yard said it was invited into the embassy by the ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.

Assange remains in custody at a central London police station until his appearance at Westminster Magistrates’ Court “as soon as is possible”, the statement added.

Julian Assange. PHOTO: The New Daily

Ecuador reaches limit

The president of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno, said the country had “reached its limit on the behavior of Mr Assange” after he allegedly intervened in the internal affairs of other states.
His accusations against Mr Assange include blocking security cameras at the embassy, accessing security files and confronting guards.

It comes a day after Wikileaks said it had uncovered an extensive spying operation against its co-founder at the Ecuadorean embassy.
There has been a long-running dispute between the Ecuadorean authorities and Mr Assange about what he was and was not allowed to do in the embassy.

BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said that over the years they have removed his access to the internet and accused him of engaging in political activities – which is not allowed when claiming asylum.

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