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The Police Have Arrested Julian Assange in London

Assange's lawyer says he was arrested for breach of bail conditions and a US extradition request.

by David Gilbert
12 April 2019, 12:27am

This article originally appeared on VICE News on US.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in London on Thursday morning after Ecuador ended his seven-year asylum for his “discourteous and aggressive behavioyr”.

Video posted on social media shows a bearded Assange resisting arrest and being dragged out of the embassy by multiple police officers. During the arrest, Assange was holding a copy of Gore Vidal’s book “History of The National Security State.”

“Ecuador has decided to terminate the diplomatic asylum granted to Mr. Assange in 2012,” President Lenin Moreno said in a video statement posted on Twitter. “The asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable.”

Moreno specifically referenced WikiLeaks publication of sensitive Vatican document in January as evidence of Assange’s ongoing meddling in other country’s affairs.

The Ecuador President however also said he secured in writing a commitment from the U.K. government that Assange would not be extradited to any country where he would face torture or the death penalty.

Assange is currently being held in a central London police station and will appear before a Magistrates’ Court “as soon as possible” the police said. He is wanted in respect of an outstanding warrant issued by the Met Police after he skipped bail in 2012.

But Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson tweeted that her client was also arrested in respect of a U.S. extradition request.

WikiLeaks claimed Thursday that Moreno’s decision was linked to an attempt to cover up an off-shore tax scandal.

“If President Moreno wants to illegally terminate a refu­gee publisher’s asylum to cover up an offshore corruption scandal, history will not be kind,” WikiLeaks said in a statement, later adding that his arrest was part of a CIA campaign to “dehumanize, delegitimize and imprison him.”

The whistle-blowing website last week predicted Assange would be expelled from the embassy “within hours or days.”

Russia has already criticized the arrests, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, labeling it “the hand of ‘democracy’ squeezing the throat of freedom.”

Just 24 hours prior to Assange’s arrest WikiLeaks claimed it had “uncovered an extensive spying operation against Julian Assange” being conducted by the Ecuadorian government, comparing it to “The Truman Show.”

Assange has been holed up in the embassy since August 2012 when he was seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden where he was wanted in connection to allegations he raped two women. Assange always denied the allegations and Swedish authorities dropped the investigation in 2017.

But Assange does face the possibility that he will be extradited to the U.S. to face charges related to WikiLeaks publication of hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables in 2010.

Last November a court filing error revealed Assange has been charged under seal, meaning he could be facing charges such as conspiracy, theft of government property or violating the Espionage Act.

Cover image: A police vehicle parked outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police and taken into custody Thursday April 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

This article originally appeared on VICE US.