WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by British police Thursday moments after Ecuador announced it withdrew his asylum for “repeatedly violating international conventions and protocol.”
Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Jose Valencia told Teleamazonas this week that living in the embassy indefinitely is bad for Assange’s “state of mind, his health,” but that Assange has a right to a fair trial and right to a defense.
London’s Metropolitan Police vowed earlier this month to arrest Assange if he were freed. Assange, who has lived in the embassy for more than six years, faces possible extradition to the U.S. for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.
Assange, 47, has been in the embassy since 2012 when British courts ordered him extradited to Sweden to face questioning in a sexual assault case. That matter has since been dropped, but Wikileaks is facing a federal grand jury investigation over its publication of American diplomatic and military secrets during the Iraq War.
Assange, an Australian native, was arrested on a Westminster Magistrates’ Court warrant which was issued on June 29, 2012, for failing to surrender to court, Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
“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,” the statement said.
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt thanked the Ecuadorean government for their cooperation with the Assange arrest.
“Julian Assange is no hero and no one is above the law. He has hidden from the truth for years,” Hunt tweeted. “Thank you Ecuador and President @Lenin Moreno for your cooperation with @foreignoffice to ensure Assange faces justice.”
The main WikiLeaks Twitter handle accused Ecuador of “illegally” terminating Assange’s political asylum and accused the country of violating international law.
“This man is a son, a father, a brother. He has won dozens of journalism awards. He’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison him,” WikiLeaks tweeted.
While in the Ecuadorean Embassy, Assange had an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity in 2017 and has hosted Pamela Anderson on a few occasions
In the “Hannity” interview, Assange argued that the Obama administration was pushing the narrative of Russia meddling in the U.S. election to delegitimize then-President-elect Donald Trump.
He also claimed he wasn’t the source for the hacked emails he released from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Last year, it appeared Assange had struck up a romantic connection with the former Playboy centerfold and “Baywatch” star. She told Harvey Levin on Fox News’ “OBJECTified” that they had a “closeness.”
“I have a real personal relationship with him,” Anderson said.
Noting their initial meeting, she told Fox News: “I brought him some vegan food, and now it’s a tradition that I bring him vegan food every time I see him, and I see him a lot.”
Assange was granted asylum at the Ecuadorean Embassy in August 2012.
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