WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by British police today “on behalf of US authorities” and dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has been claiming asylum for seven years.
According to a Metropolitan Police press release:
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“Julian Assange, 47, (03.07.71) has today, Thursday 11 April, been further arrested on behalf of the United States authorities, at 10:53hrs after his arrival at a central London police station. This is an extradition warrant under Section 73 of the Extradition Act. He will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as possible.”
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The pale and bearded WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, 47, who played a major role in the 2016 US presidential election, was forcibly removed from the embassy in handcuffs immediately after Ecuador canceled his asylum status – ending Assange’s 2,487 day residency in the embassy.
Assange was captured by cameras as he was hauled from the building by at least seven plain clothes policeman, while others watched on.
Heavily bearded and grayer than last time he was seen in public, the WikiLeaks founder held a copy of Gore Vidal’s History of the National Security State, and he shouted “The UK has no civility” and “The UK must resist”.
Assange has been mocked for claiming he would be extradited to the US if he set foot outside of the Ecuadorian embassy, however his worst fears are now set to be realized.
He had feared stepping off Ecuador’s diplomatic soil would see him arrested and extradited to the US for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables.
The Sun report:
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:
- Julian Assange has been arrested after 2,487 days holed up – costing British taxpayers more than £10m
- He went into hiding in August 2012 to avoid facing extradition to Sweden for sexual assault and rape allegations
- Sweden dropped the charges in 2017 but Swedish accuser today called for case to be re-opened
- Wanted in US for espionage and publication of sensitive government documents, and in UK for skipping bail in 2012
- He fears he could face death penalty if extradited to US over WikiLeaks scandal
- Ecuadorian President said Assange release dependent on not facing extradition to country with death penalty
- Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan said ‘UK courts will decide’ his future
- US State Department has not yet commented
Scotland Yard confirmed he is being held on behalf of the US authorities – where he is wanted for espionage – as well as breaching his bail conditions in Britain.
America’s involvement raises further questions over the forthcoming battle to be had on his extradition – as his lawyers fear he will face the death penalty if sent to the US.
But Ecuadorian President Moreno said today Britain had confirmed it would not extradite Assange to a country where he could face the death sentence.
After the arrest, Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan said Assange will face “justice in the proper way in the UK” and it will be “for the courts” to decide what happens next.
The US State Department has not commented yet.
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