Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks has been arrested by the UK police today. The announcement of the arrest has been made by the London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in a statement that Julian Assange aged 47 has been arrested by MPS officers at the Embassy of Ecuador, Hans Crescent, SW1 on a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 29 June 2012, for failing to surrender to the court.
Assange has been taken from Ecuador’s embassy and is now at a central London police station. He would be brought to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as is possible.
Assange had been living inside Ecuador’s embassy building in London since August 2012, when he applied for political asylum with the Ecuadorian government.
The British government has been in talks with the Ecuadorian government since July 2018 to withdraw the asylum protection of Assange. This was made possible today following which he was arrested. The arrest took place after Ecuador’s Ambassador in the UK invited Met Police officers inside the embassy.
Ecuador’s president Lenín Moreno made a Twitter post explaining the country’s decision to withdraw Assange’s asylum. One of the main reasons was Assange’s ongoing involvement with WikiLeaks, that broke Ecuador’s political asylum rules which prohibit asylum seekers from engaging in any political campaigns that impact the internal affairs of foreign countries.
On April 5 the WikiLeaks project tweeted that the Ecuadorian government was preparing to withdraw Assange’s asylum.
UK police was looking to arrest Assange since August 2012, when he did not appear before the court and breached his bail conditions. During that period, Assange was fighting his extradition from the UK to Sweden, where police was investigating the WikiLeaks founder in a 2010 sexual assault and rape cape. Even though the Sweden case was closed in 2017; the UK authorities continued to seek Assange’s arrest for absconding.
Earlier Assange had claimed several times that the Sweden case was a fake one to get him deported to Sweden, and then to the US.
The US government has been seeking Assange on criminal charges since 2010 since he leaked top secret documents provided by former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
Several other leaks published on the WikiLeaks portal, exposed classified operations from US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Manning served seven years in prison, commuted from 35 years by President Obama.
WikiLeaks also published the documentation of several CIA hacking tools in a data dump known as Vault 7, and emails from the DNC 2015-2016 hack, which the US Department of Justice concluded were taken by Russian government-backed hackers and later passed on to WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks was founded by Assange in 2006, and the website became famous after the 2010 Manning leaks. They had to face numerous allegations for its anti-US, anti-Clinton, and pro-Trump stance, along with the site’s possible ties to Russian foreign political influence campaigns.
According to Assange’s lawyer, the US has already filed an extradition request for Assange and has issued an official arrest warrant in December 2017.
The US Department of Justice confirmed issuing a formal extradition request in a press release published today, hours after Assange’s arrest.