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Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrested in London

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A woman holds a placard reading “Assange’s Safety is in Danger” as she demonstrates against the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in front of the Foreign Ministry in Quito on April 11, 2019 hours after he was hustled out of Ecuador’s embassy in London, and pulled into a waiting police van. – Assange’s seven-year hideout in Ecuador’s London embassy dramatically ended Thursday when British police dragged him out and arrested him on a US extradition request. The drama came after Ecuador — under pro-US President Lenin Moreno, increasingly frustrated with Assange’s stay — pulled its asylum and cancelled his citizenship after earlier curbing his internet and mobile phone access. (Photo by Cristina VEGA / AFP)

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped.

At Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday, he was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court.

He now faces U.S. federal conspiracy charges related to one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets.

The UK will decide whether to extradite Assange, in response to allegations by the Department for Justice that he conspired with former U.S. intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to download four classified databases.

He faces up to five years in U.S. prison if convicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

Ecuador’s president said it withdrew his asylum after repeated violations of international conventions.

But Wikileaks tweeted that Ecuador had acted illegally in terminating Assange’s political asylum “in violation of international law”.

Assange, 47, was initially taken to a central London police station before appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Dressed in a black suit and black polo shirt, he waved to the public gallery and gave thumbs up. He pleaded “not guilty” to the 2012 charge of failing to surrender to the court.

The court heard that during his arrest at the embassy he had to be restrained and shouted: “This is unlawful, I am not leaving.”

Finding him guilty, District Judge Michael Snow said Assange’s behaviour was “the behaviour of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest”.

He sent him to Southwark Crown Court for sentencing, where he faces up to 12 months in prison.

Australian national Assange set up Wikileaks in 2006 with the aim of obtaining and publishing confidential documents and images.

The organisation hit the headlines four years later when it released footage of U.S. soldiers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq.

Former U.S. intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was arrested in 2010 for disclosing more than 700,000 confidential documents, videos and diplomatic cables to the anti-secrecy website.

She said she only did so to spark debates about foreign policy, but U.S. officials said the leak put lives at risk.

The indictment, issued last year in the state of Virginia, alleges that Mr Assange conspired in 2010 with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to access classified information on Department of Defense computers. He faces up to five years in jail.


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