WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested by British police at Ecuadorean embassy

In Summary

• Assange was arrested by British police on Thursday after they were invited into the Ecuadorean embassy where he has been holed up since 2012.

• In 2016, a British judge refused to halt legal proceedings against Assange for jumping bail and fleeing to the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017.
Image: REUTERS

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was on Thursday arrested by British police at the Ecuadorean embassy.

Australian-born Assange entered the embassy in 2012 to avoid being sent to Sweden to face allegations of sex crimes.

He has been holed up at the Embassy since then.

 

"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.

Police said they arrested Assange after being "invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorean government's withdrawal of asylum."

A police van is seen outside the Ecuadorian embassy after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by British police in London, Britain, April 11, 2019.
A police van is seen outside the Ecuadorian embassy after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by British police in London, Britain, April 11, 2019.
Image: REUTERS

In 2016, a British judge refused to halt legal proceedings against Assange for jumping bail and fleeing to the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

The ruling left Assange in a legal and diplomatic impasse, with no way out of the embassy where he has lived for almost six years, unless he decided to face the prospect of arrest by British police.

Assange said on Twitter he had three months to appeal the ruling, without specifying whether he would.

He said the judge's ruling contained "significant factual errors" which he did not spell out.

He further denied the sex crimes against him.

Though the Swedish case was dropped in 2016, Britain still had a warrant out for his arrest over his breach of bail terms.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo last year called WikiLeaks a "hostile intelligence service," using his first public speech as spy agency chief to denounce leakers who have plagued US intelligence.

Pompeo, in an address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, called WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange "a fraud" and "a coward."

"It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is, a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia," Pompeo said.