WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested on Thursday by British police who carried him out of an Ecuadorean embassy. According to a report from Reuters, the Ecuadorean government abruptly revoked a seven-year asylum which subsequently left Assange with no legal protection in the country.
An agitated, frail-looking Assange with white hair and a white beard was carried out of the embassy by at least seven men to a waiting police van.
“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.”
The arrest is merely the next chapter for Assange, who exposed U.S. national security secrets by “publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables,” Reuters reports. Here’s more:
To some, Assange is a hero for exposing what supporters cast as an abuse of power by modern states and for championing free speech. But to others, he is a dangerous rebel who has undermined the security of the United States.
Assange made international headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks published a classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.
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“Julian Assange is no hero, he has hidden from the truth for years and years,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.
“It’s not so much Julian Assange being held hostage in the Ecuadorean embassy, it’s actually Julian Assange holding the Ecuadorean embassy hostage in a situation that was absolutely intolerable for them.”
The Ecuadorean government’s decision to revoke the asylum came after they claimed Assange violated its terms.
Reuters reports Assange has been accused of leaking information about
Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno’s personal life.
USA Today reports Assange’s arrest will ultimately lead him to the United Kingdom and the United States:
The charges against Assange, revealed Thursday morning, alleged that he engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password for Defense Department computers.
The computers were connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network, which was used for classified documents and communications, prosecutors said. Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks, according to the department.
Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her, prosecutors alleged.
During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange, according to the department. Manning told Assange that “after this upload, that’s all I really have got left” the department said. Assange replied, “curious eyes never run dry in my experience,” the department said.
Assange’s charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion could result in a maximum penalty of five years in prison, should he be convicted, USA Today reports. These sentences are usually less than the maximum.