Thursday, 11 April 2019

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange is arrested by police after being ejected from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London

Julian Assange has appeared in a British court today after being hauled out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London after a seven-year stay following an extradition request by the US.

The Wikileaks founder was arrested by British police officers on behalf of the US to answer a charge of conspiring with American whistleblower Chelsea Manning 'to break a password to a classified government computer' in 2010.

According to court documents unsealed today, the charge relates to Assange's alleged role in 'one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the US' and he faces a maximum jail term of five years.

He appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court and pleaded not guilty to a further charge of failing to surrender following an extradition order from Sweden in 2011, which related to rape allegations made the year before.

Earlier today, Assange, sporting a scruffy beard and unkempt hair, was dragged out of the embassy in handcuffs by a group of seven men as his stunned supporters watched on as he screamed out 'the UK must resist'. 

It comes after Ecuador dramatically withdrew Assange's asylum status after seven years, blaming the Australian's 'discourteous and aggressive behaviour' in continuing to work with Wikileaks while housed at the embassy.

Assange, 47, has always feared extradition to the US, where his lawyers have claimed he could face the death penalty for the mass leaking of highly-classified documents through Wikileaks.

In a statement today, Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno accused Assange of violating the terms of his asylum by 'interfering in internal affairs of other states' as well as 'blocking security cameras' and 'mistreating guards'.

The arrest came just 24 hours after Wikileaks accused Ecuador of an 'extensive spying operation', adding that it assumed intel had been handed over to the administration of US President Donald Trump.

Assange, who has overseen the publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through Wikileaks, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court a few hours after his was brought into custody by police.

News of his arrest was praised by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who said 'no one was above the law', while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt added Assange was 'no hero' and claimed he had 'hidden from the truth for years'.
In a statement, the Home Office said: 'We can confirm that Julian Assange was arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America.

'He is accused in the United States of America computer related offences.'

It was accidentally revealed in November that Assange had been secretly indicted by the US Justice Department, but the exact nature of the charges against the 47-year-old was not disclosed.

Assange has not left Ecuador's diplomatic soil since 2012, when the country offered diplomatic protection from allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.

The case was eventually dropped as investigators were unable to formally notify Assange of the allegations, however Swedish prosecutors revealed today that the case could now be revisited following his arrest.

Moments after the arrest, during which Assange held on to a Gore Vidal book on the history of the national security state, Wikileaks said Ecuador had acted illegally and 'in violation of international law'.

In a statement today, Ecuador's president claimed to have asked Britain to guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to any country where he could face torture or the death penalty. 

Mr Javid said: 'Nearly seven years after entering the Ecuadorean Embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK.

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