Julian Assange, the founder, and former editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, has been arrested by UK Police from the Ecuadorian embassy in London after Ecuador withdrew the asylum granted to him in August 2012. He was also granted Ecuadorian citizenship in December 2017.
The warrant for his arrest was issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in June 2012 when he violated his bail conditions and took refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy. Having surrendered to the Met Police in 2010, he was fighting Sweden’s extradition request in court before he absconded.
According to Met Police, Assange was arrested earlier today after he reached a central London police station and will be made to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court later today.
“The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] has 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,” it added. If Assange fails to find a favourable verdict, he may be extradited to the United States in the coming days.
Assange violated international conventions, says Ecuador
Announcing the withdrawal of asylum status granted to Assange, Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno said on Twitter that the asylum status was withdrawn as Assange repeatedly violated international conventions and protocols of coexistence.
Incidentally, the withdrawal of asylum status granted to Assange took place within months after he sued the government of Ecuador for violating his human rights. Assange was allegedly kept in solitary confinement, his access to the Internet was withdrawn in March last year, and embassy officials installed jammers to prevent him from using his phone.
Commenting on his arrest, WikiLeaks said that the government of Equador is using the pretext of INA papers to victimise Assange when, in fact, president Moreno has decided to trade Assange with the United States in exchange for US debt relief. According to WikiLeaks, the INA papers have detailed out how Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno and his family used offshore companies (primarily INA Investment Corp) to make expensive purchases and engaged in corrupt and criminal dealings, including money laundering and offshore accounts.
President Moreno has accused Assange of being the main actor behind the INA papers leak and said that the report was “absolutely outrageous, reproachable”. “It shows Assange for what he is… of course we will act. We will not allow his website to interfere in the private channels of communication of the Ecuadorian head of state…. he is biting the hand that feeds him,” said the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister.
“Not a single document referring to INAPAPERS, or the president’s family, has ever been leaked or published by WikiLeaks, let alone by Julian Assange, who for more than half a year has not been its editor and who has been isolated for one year under a regime quasi-prison by the government of Ecuador.
“Despite being an outrageous accusation, the farce has reached the point that the Ecuadorian National Assembly has issued a resolution to investigate Julián and encourages the government to take measures to “safeguard national interests.” In short, the government seeks a false pretext to end the asylum and protection of Julian Assange,” WikiLeaks added.
The United States has been pursuing Assange and fighting for his extradition ever since WikiLeaks leaked the Iraq War Logs, the Afghanistan War Logs, the Guantanamo files, and hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables.