Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was today dramatically arrested by police and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy after spending more than six years holed up inside.
The WikiLeaks founder was taken into custody on Thursday after Ecuador abruptly withdrew asylum for him. He was arrested for failing to surrender to the court and was taken in custody to a central London police station this morning. Assange, 47, took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to escape extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning on sexual misconduct allegations. He has been living inside the embassy for almost seven years in the belief that he would be extradited to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks if he left the building.
Video shows Assange struggling as multiple officers carried him out to a police van. With a grown out beard he waved his finger and shouted as he was bundled away. WikiLeaks, in a statement on Twitter shortly after the arrest, said: “Ecuador has illegally terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law. He was arrested by the British police inside the Ecuadorian embassy minutes ago.” The organisation added: “Julian Assange did not “walk out of the embassy”. The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested.” He fears the US will pursue him for extradition for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks. Though allegations of rape against him were eventually dropped, there was still an active warrant for his arrest in Britain for failing to comply with his bail terms.
The dramatic development came after growing tensions between Assange and Ecuador in recent weeks. Ecuador recently reminded Assange that he could not stay in the London embassy forever. The country’s foreign minister Jose Valencia said a permanent stay would not be good for Mr Assange’s “state of mind, his health”. Scotland Yard said in a statement: “Julian Assange, 47, has today, Thursday 11 April, been arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) at the Embassy of Ecuador, Hans Crescent, SW1 on a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 29 June 2012, for failing to surrender to the court. He has been taken into custody at a central London police station where he will remain, before being presented before Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as is possible. The MPS had 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.”
British Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “Nearly 7yrs after entering the Ecuadorean Embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK. I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation & @metpoliceuk for its professionalism. No one is above the law.”Photo Credit: Getty