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WilkiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrested in London

The Wrap Thursday, 11 April 2019 ()
WilkiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrested in LondonWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested on Thursday in London after Ecuador president Lenin Moreno withdrew its offer of asylum in its embassy in the London capital.

Assange has been holed up in a back room of the embassy for nearly seven years after seeking asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape accusation — which he denied and was later dropped.

But he still faced a lesser charge of skipping bail, and that seems to have activated Scotland Yard to detain him after Ecuador withdrew its asylum.

It is unclear if the 47-year-old Australian national might be extradited to the United States, where he has long been under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for WikiLeaks’ role in publishing thousands of government secrets. He was also an important figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, including how WikiLeaks obtained emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and Democratic groups.

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Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson tweeted that her client “has been arrested not just for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a US extradition request.”

In a tweet, WikiLeaks said Ecuador “has illigally terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law.” In a subsequent tweet, the organization said: “Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison him.”

In a statement cited by the BBC, Moreno said his country “had reached its limit” with Assange, citing WikiLeaks January 2019 release of secret Vatican documents. “This and other publications have confirmed the world’s suspicion that Mr Assange is still linked to WikiLeaks and therefore involved in interfering in internal affairs of other states,” Moreno said in a statement.

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British Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Thursday confirmed that Assange was in the custody of British authorities “and rightly facing justice in the UK.”

“He (Assange) 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,” a London Metropolitan Police statement said, adding that Assange had been arrested on a warrant issued by the same court on June 29 2012, for “failing to surrender to the court.”

“The MPS (Met 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 statement said.

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