WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested Thursday morning, nearly seven years after he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
“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,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement. Police later confirmed that Assange had been “further arrested” by US authorities in relation to an extradition warrant.
The US Justice Department charged Assange with a conspiracy to commit computer hacking. “The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network,” a statement read. (Read the full indictment below.)
He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Law enforcement officials on Thursday were seen dragging Assange out of the building while he shouted, “They must resist! UK resist!”
The moment a furious Julian Assange is dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy following his arrest. He has been taken into custody and will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court ‘as soon as possible’. #5News | @wikileaks pic.twitter.com/iWwklALUM7
— Channel 5 News (@5_News) April 11, 2019
In a video message, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said that the government was withdrawing diplomatic asylum status to the controversial WikiLeaks founder for repeatedly “violating international conventions and protocol of coexistence.”
Ecuador decidió soberanamente retirar el asilo diplomático a Julian Assange por violar reiteradamente convenciones internacionales y protocolo de convivencia. #EcuadorSoberano pic.twitter.com/V02pvvtPY0
— Lenín Moreno (@Lenin) April 11, 2019
Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 while facing extradition to Sweden over charges of sexual assault. In his appearance before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, Assange was found guilty of failing to surrender to police in June 2012 in response to the sexual assault charges.
WikiLeaks has since slammed the arrest, claiming that the Ecuadorian government had “illegally terminated” Assange’s political asylum. The group also sought donations.
This is a breaking news post. We’ll be updating as more information becomes available.