Julian Assange arrested in London on behalf of US

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested Thursday in London on behalf of authorities in the U.S. who charged him in the release of classified information from Chelsea Manning.

“This is an extradition warrant under Section 73 of the Extradition Act,” London’s Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement

Assange, 47, “will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as possible,” the department added.

Police initially said he was arrested on a warrant for failure to surrender.

{mosads}The Department of Justice announced Thursday that charges were filed against Assange for allegedly conspiring to hack into computers in connection with the organizations’ release of classified government cables from Manning, a former Army private and intelligence analyst.

The charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion of a classified U.S. government computer carries a five-year maximum sentence.

Officers were “invited” into the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange had been since 2012, by the ambassador “following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum,” police said.

Lenín Moreno, the president of Ecuador, said in a tweet Thursday that the country decided to stop sheltering Assange because “his repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols,” according to The New York Times.

WikiLeaks said in a tweet on Thursday that “powerful actors” were working to “dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison” Assange.

The site’s editor-in-chief said on Wednesday that Assange had been subject to an “extensive spying operation” at the embassy.

“What we have established is that security cameras were used to monitor his every move, his every meeting,” Kristinn Hrafnsson said at a press conference posted on Twitter.

WikiLeaks tweeted last week that Assange could be expelled from the embassy in “hours to days.”

Assange in 2016 published emails from then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. He has defended his actions, saying he was acting as a journalist.

The hacked emails were thought to have aided Russian interference ahead of the 2016 election.

The Justice Department last year mistakenly revealed it had prepared charges against Assange in connection to the publishing of the emails.

“We are aware of the reports that Julian Assange was taken into custody by United Kingdom authorities. We refer you to the U.K. for comment regarding the arrest,” a Justice Department spokesman told the Times on Thursday.

Assange was also previously involved in a rape investigation that was dropped in 2017, and a Swedish lawyer for the alleged victim told Reuters on Thursday that she will ask prosecutors to reopen the case and extradite Assange to Sweden.

“My client and I have just received the news that Assange has been arrested. The fact that what we have been waiting and hoping for nearly seven years is now happening, of course, comes as a shock to my client,” Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the attorney, told Reuters in a text.

“We will do all we can to get prosecutors to reopen the Swedish preliminary criminal investigation so that Assange can be extradited to Sweden and be prosecuted for rape,” she added.

This report was last updated at 11:09 a.m.

Tags Assange arrest Hillary Clinton London WikiLeaks

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