WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrested; Evaded Capture For 7 Years

Julian Assange (Photo: Reuters)

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and a fugitive from British justice, was today arrested at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London by the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

He was granted asylum by Ecuador in 2012 and was, therefore, able to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped. The MPS said Assange was arrested for failing to surrender to the court.

"Julian Assange, 47, has today, Thursday 11 April, been arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service at the Embassy of Ecuador," said the MPS in a statement.

The MPS also said they arrested Assange after being "invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorean government's withdrawal of asylum."

Assange had been hiding inside the embassy since August 2012 to evade arrest by the British for the criminal offense of breaching his bail conditions. He became a naturalized Ecuadorean citizen in December 2017.

His arrest had the approval of Ecuadorean president Lenín Moreno, who admitted he had begun talks with British authorities to withdraw the asylum granted Assange. Moreno said he withdrew Assange's asylum after his repeated violations of international conventions.

In a Twitter video Moreno said that while the country respects the right of asylum, "the discourteous and aggressive behavior of Mr. Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declarations of its allied organization, against Ecuador, and especially, the transgression of international treaties" mean that "the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable."

 In December 2018, Assange rejected an offer that would have allowed him to leave the embassy with the guarantee the UK wouldn't extradite him to any country where he could face the death penalty.

Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006. He came to international attention in 2010, when WikiLeaks published a series of leaks provided by Chelsea Manning, a cashiered U.S. Army soldier who was convicted of violating their Espionage Act.

These leaks included the Collateral Murder video (April 2010); the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010); the Iraq war logs (October 2010), and CableGate (November 2010). Following the 2010 leaks, the U.S. federal government launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and asked allied nations for assistance.

During the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries, WikiLeaks hosted emails sent or received by candidate Hillary Clinton from her private email server when she was Secretary of State. The Democratic Party, along with cybersecurity experts, claimed Russian intelligence had hacked Clinton campaign-related e-mails and leaked them to WikiLeaks.

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