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Julian Assange was arrested on Thursday inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, bringing to an end seven years of political refuge. Following the arrest, U.S. authorities revealed an unsealed indictment that accuses the WikiLeaks founder of conspiring with Chelsea Manning to hack into government computers.
Assange, sporting a white beard and carrying a book, was seen shouting and gesticulating as he was carried out of the property in handcuffs and put into a police van.
London’s Met Police said the arrest was made over Assange’s failure to surrender to the court and breaching his bail conditions by entering the embassy in June 2012.
“The [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.”
The police later confirmed that a “further arrest” had been made on behalf of the U.S. and that Assange faced extradition.
“Julian Assange, 47, 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,” it said in a statement. “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.”
Later on Thursday afternoon, Assange was found guilty of skipping bail by a judge. He had pleaded not guilty. He now faces a jail sentence of up to 12 months when he is sentenced at Crown Court.
Assange hadn’t left the embassy since being granted political asylum by Ecuador while on bail for sexual assault allegations against him in Sweden. At the time there were fears that, were Assange to be extradited to Sweden, he would be arrested by the U.S. and face charges linked to WikiLeaks’s publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents and cables. The sexual assault case has since been dropped.
However, the Australian is reported to have repeatedly breached the conditions of his asylum, which state that he must not engage in political activity. On Twitter, Ecuador’s president Lenín Moreno said: “In a sovereign decision, Ecuador withdrew the asylum status to Julian Assange after his repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols.”
WikiLeaks responded by saying that Moreno had acted illegally in terminating Assange’s political asylum, a move that was “in violation of international law.”
Assange’s relationship with his Ecuadorian hosts is known to have deteriorated in recent years. In March, his internet access was cut off and he was barred from accepting visitors. Last year, Ecuadorian authorities also demanded that he pay his medical bills and clean up after his pet cat.
His arrest comes just a day after WikiLeaks accused the Ecuadorian government of an “extensive spying operation” against Assange.
The seven years of Assange’s stay in the embassy saw him welcome several celebrities, including former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and ex-Manchester United soccer player Eric Cantona.
In 2017, Assange is alleged to have had a visit from pro-Brexit politician Nigel Farage, whose relationship with Donald Trump is well documented. The previous year, Wikileaks had published leaked Hillary Clinton emails, which caused much debate during her presidential election showdown with Trump.
Watch Assange being arrested in the video below.
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