Julian Assange arrested by UK police and removed from Ecuador embassy

Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested by British police at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.


Officers executed a warrant for the 47-year-old’s arrest on Thursday morning after the Ecuadorian government withdrew his asylum.

Mr Assange took refuge in the Knightsbridge embassy seven years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced sexual assault allegations.

Those accusations have since been dropped but he remained wanted for failing to surrender to Westminster Magistrates’ Court in June 2012. Mr Assange has maintained his arrest would lead him being extradited to the US, where he faces charges over the release of sensitive government files.

The Metropolitan Police said it “had a duty to execute the warrant” and was ”invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum”.

He blamed Mr Assange’s “discourteous and aggressive behaviour” for his expulsion from the embassy.

Wikileaks claimed Ecuador had had terminated the asylum “in violation of international law”.

“Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanise, delegitimise and imprison” Mr Assange, it added in a tweet.

The Wikileaks founder was led “screaming” and “struggling” from the embassy at about 10.25am, according to a witness. Footage showed him surrounded by officers as he was led from the building and bundled into a waiting van.

Mr Assange was taken into custody at central London police station and will appear before Westminster magistrates “as soon as is possible”, Scotland Yard said.

Sajid Javid, the UK home secretary, said the Wikileaks founder was “rightly facing justice in the UK”. He added: “I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation and the Met Police for its professionalism. No one is above the law.”

A United Nations human rights expert last week expressed concern about reports that Mr Assange was set to be expelled from the embassy.

“He is likely to be arrested by British authorities and extradited to the United States,” said Nils Merlzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture. “Such a response could expose him to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial and the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”


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