British police arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Ecuador says it approved raid on its London embassy, where Assange has been staying since 2012, citing international convention violations

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, April 11, 2019 (Screen grab via Sky News)
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, April 11, 2019 (Screen grab via Sky News)

Police in London arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy Thursday for failing to surrender to the court in 2012, shortly after the South American nation revoked his asylum.

Assange has been living at the embassy since 2012 when he sought refuge to avoid extradition by Sweden over a sexual assault case.

WikiLeaks accused Ecuador of “illegally” withdrawing asylum for Assange and said Ecuador’s ambassador to London had invited British police into the building to arrest him.

“Ecuador has illegally terminated Assange’s political asylum in violation of international law,” the site said on Twitter, adding that the ambassador “invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested.”

Ecuador’s president said his government withdrew asylum status for Assange almost seven years after he sought refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London, citing “repeated violations of international conventions and daily-life protocols.”

Lenin Moreno announced the “sovereign decision” in a statement accompanied by a video on Twitter on Thursday.

“Today I announce that that 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, have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable,” Moreno said.

Assange hasn’t left the embassy since August 2012 for fear that if he steps off Ecuador’s diplomatic soil he would be arrested and extradited to the US for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.

A police vehicle parked outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police and taken into custody on April 11, 2019. (John Stillwell/PA via AP)

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt thanked Moreno for breaking the impasse, saying on Twitter that Assange “is no hero and no one is above the law.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said Russia wants Assange’s rights to be observed following his arrest.

Shortly after Assange’s arrest in London, Dmitry Peskov told reporters that he could not comment on the overall case.

But, he said, “We of course hope that all of his rights will be observed.”

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