Britain Arrests WikiLeaks Founder Assange

Written by on April 11, 2019

London, United Kingdom (VoA) – British police arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday, the latest step in a legal drama dating back more than seven years.

Assange had taken refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 in order to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault charges.

Sweden later dropped its investigation, but Assange remained at the embassy over fears Britain might extradite him to the United States in connection with WikiLeaks’ publication of classified U.S. government documents.

A Metropolitan Police statement said officers arrested Assange at the embassy in connection with a June 2012 British warrant for “failing to surrender to court.”

The police said they were invited into the embassy by Ecuador’s ambassador after the Ecuadorian government withdrew Assange’s asylum.

Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno issued a video statement Thursday explaining his country’s decision, saying it had “reached its limit” on his behavior.

“Today I announce that the discourteous and aggressive behavior of Mr. Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declarations of his allied organization against Ecuador, and especially the transgression of international treaties, have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable,” Moreno said.

He listed a series of alleged transgressions by Assange during his time at the embassy, including installing electronic equipment that was not allowed, blocking security cameras, mistreating guards, and accessing embassy security files without permission.

Moreno said most recently, WikiLeaks released Vatican documents, and that before and after the release key members of the organization visited Assange, pointing to his continued relationship with a group “interfering in internal affairs of other states.”

The Ecuadorian leader also said that in line with his government’s respect for human rights, he requested Britain not extradite Assange to any country where he might be subject to torture or the death penalty, and that Britain had “confirmed it in writing, in accordance with its own rules.”

In a Twitter post, WikiLeaks said Ecuador “illegally terminated Assange’s political asylum in violation of international law.”

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