WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange could face trial in the U.S. after his Thursday arrest in London which the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police said occurred partly to extradite him to the United States.
Assange, 47, had been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years until Ecuador withdrew his asylum. He first holed up in the embassy when Sweden tried to extradite him because of sexual assault allegations, reported BBC. That case has been dropped, but Assange has remained in the embassy to avoid being extradited to the U.S. or another country he has claimed wants to question him.
— New Day (@NewDay) April 11, 2019
“I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the [United Kingdom],” UK 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
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) April 11, 2019
Police in the UK said they arrested Assange for failing to surrender to the court, reported BBC. Reports that the U.S. Department of Justice was preparing charges against Assange cropped up in November.
Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno said the country terminated asylum for Assange due to repeated violations of international conventions, but Wikileaks claimed on Twitter that Ecuador was “in violation of international law” by essentially kicking out the Australian national.
URGENT: Ecuador has illigally terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law. He was arrested by the British police inside the Ecuadorian embassy minutes ago.https://t.co/6Ukjh2rMKD
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
Ecuador’s government invited Scotland Yard to the embassy, the police force said according to BBC.
WikiLeaks has claimed that Assange was being spied on in the Ecuadorian embassy.
Assange’s relationship with Ecuadorian officials could be characterized as anything but smooth. Ecuador felt the need to order Assange to take care of his cat and clean the bathroom in October.
The WikiLeaks founder became a household name for publishing tens of thousands of documents related to the U.S. military. Assange’s name also popped up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, but Mueller’s January indictment of President Donald Trump associate Roger Stone alleged no direct contact with Assange.
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