Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy in London after seven years and was immediately arrested by Metropolitan Police shortly after 10 am on Thursday morning. Ecuador’s president said Assange was evicted in a “sovereign decision” after “repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols.”
Assange had been seeking refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges.
The Guardian reports: “Assange claimed that if he was extradited to Sweden he might be arrested by the US and face charges relating to the publication of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks. … US authorities have never officially confirmed that they have charged Assange, but in November 2018 a mistake in a document filed in an unrelated case hinted that criminal charges might have been prepared in secret.”
Said the Metropolitan Police: ““He has been taken into custody at a central London police station where he will remain, before being presented before Westminster magistrates court as soon as is possible. The MPS [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.”
Assange was holding a copy of the book Gore Vidal History of The National Security State: Includes Vidal on America.
Wikileaks put out a statement: “This man is a son, a father, a brother. He has won dozens of journalism awards. He’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison him. #ProtectJulian”
Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno issued a video and a statement about Assange’s eviction.
Said Moreno’s statement:
“The patience of Ecuador has reached its limit on the behaviour of Mr Assange. He installed electronic and distortion equipment not allowed. He blocked the security cameras of the Ecuadorian mission in London. He has confronted and mistreated guards. He had accessed the security files of our embassy without permission. He claimed to be isolated and rejected the internet connection offered by the embassy and yet he had a mobile phone with which he communicated with the outside world.
“While Ecuador upheld the generous conditions of his asylum, Mr Assange legally challenged in three difference instances the legality of the protocol. In all cases the relevant judicial authorities have validated Ecuador’s position in line with our strong commitment to human rights and international law.
“I requested Great Britain to guarantee that Mr Assange would not be extradited to a country where he could face torture or the death penalty. The British government has confirmed it in writing, in accordance with its own rules.
“Finally, two days ago, Wikileaks, Mr Assange’s allied organisation, threatened the government of Ecuador. My government has nothing to fear and does not act under threats. Ecuador is guided by the principles of law, complies with international law and protects the interests of Ecuadorians.”
The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed charges against Assange a few hours after his arrest.
NBC News reports: ‘The Department of Justice said hours after Assange’s arrest that it had sought his extradition in connection with a federal charge of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer.” The indictment accuses Assange of collaborating with Chelsea Manning in 2010 over the leaking and publication of classified military files. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.’