WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by British police on Thursday in the Ecuadorian embassy where he’d been holed up since 2012 after the United States requested his extradition, London police say.
“Julian Assange, 47, has today, Thursday 11 April, been arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) at the Embassy of Ecuador,” police said in a statement.
They arrested Assange after being “invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.”
London police later confirmed Assange was arrested “on behalf of the United States,” which requested Assange’s extradition, as well as for breaching British bail conditions.
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said Assange’s diplomatic asylum was withdrawn for repeated violations of international conventions. Ecuador received a guarantee from Britain that Assange would not be extradited to a country where he could face the death penalty, Moreno said.
British foreign minister Alan Duncan statement on arrest of Julian Assange:
“It is absolutely right that Assange will face justice in the proper way in the U.K. It is for the courts to decide what happens next.”
Police said Assange 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.”
Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation. That probe was later dropped.
Assange hadn’t left the embassy since August 2012 for fear that if he steps off Ecuador’s diplomatic soil he will be arrested and extradited to the U.S. for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange is no hero and no one is above the law. He has hidden from the truth for years. Thank you Ecuador and President @Lenin Moreno for your cooperation with @foreignoffice to ensure Assange faces justice
Assange’s relationship with his hosts collapsed after Ecuador accused him of leaking information about Moreno’s personal life. Moreno had previously said Assange has violated the terms of his asylum.
WikiLeaks said Ecuador had illegally terminated Assange’s political asylum in violation of international law.