WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested Thursday morning when United Kingdom officials dragged him out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had been living for roughly seven years. He had been hiding out at the embassy to avoid facing a sexual assault charge in Sweden, but that case has since been dropped. Thursday’s arrest is for alleged failure to surrender to court, the BBC reported. He was accused of skipping bail in 2012.
Video of the arrest showed officials escorting a bearded Assange out of the embassy. Scotland Yard officials arrived at the behest of the Ecuadorian ambassador after Ecuador withdrew the asylum they had granted to Assange. He is now being held by police in London.
Ecuador decided to turn him over after the country’s “reached its limit on the behaviour of Mr Assange” related to international affairs, President Lenin Moreno.
“The most recent incident occurred in January 2019, when WikiLeaks leaked Vatican documents,” Moreno said. “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.”
Assange has been linked to the release of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign, which were published by WikiLeaks after being hacked, allegedly by Russian government actors.
This arrest appears to be paving the way for Assange to be extradited to the United States in connection with interference in American affairs, which also allegedly includes receiving and publishing U.S. military documents that were leaked by Chelsea Manning. Manning went to prison for this, only to have her sentence commuted by President Barack Obama before he left office in January 2017.
WikiLeaks tweeted Thursday after Assange’s arrest that this was indeed “in relation to a US extradition request” for conspiring with Manning.
Assange has been arrested in relation to a US extradition request for “conspiracy with Chelsea Manning” for publishing Iraq War Logs, Cablegate, Afghan War Logs, precisely the persecution for which he was granted asylum under the 1951 Refugee Convention in 2012. @unhumanrights pic.twitter.com/i0TezO3SdK
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
Law&Crime has reached out to the U.S. Department of Justice to confirm, and will update upon receiving a response.
[Image via BBC/RuptlyTV screengrab]