UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Refugee since 2012 at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, Julian Assange, was arrested on April 11, announced the British police. Quito suspended the Ecuadorian nationality of the founder of the WikiLeaks site.
The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, was arrested by British police on Thursday at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, confirmed Home Office Secretary Sajid Javid. It was delivered to the Westminster Magistrates Court.
Quito later announced that his Ecuadorian nationality had been suspended.
Scotland Yard explains
“Julian Assange, 47, was arrested today, Thursday, April 11, by agents of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) at the Embassy of Ecuador,” said Scotland Yard, explaining that the arrest had was conducted under a June 2012 warrant issued by the London Westminster Magistrates Court for failure to appear in court.
URGENT: Ecuador has illigally terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law. He was arrested by the British police inside the Ecuadorian embassy minutes ago.https://t.co/6Ukjh2rMKD
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
Scotland Yard also said that Julian Assange had been arrested at the request of US authorities, pursuant to an extradition order.
UPDATE: Julian Assange has been further arrested in relation to an extradition warrant on behalf of the United States authorities. He remains in custody at a central London police station. https://t.co/rK3mtlsPBE pic.twitter.com/kipiWbflOh
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) April 11, 2019
Police “invited” by Ecuadorian ambassador to arrest Assange
According to the Twitter account of the WikiLeaks news site, the Ecuadorian ambassador “invited” the police in the embassy to arrest Assange.
Julian Assange did not "walk out of the embassy". The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
British police also said they had been invited by Quito to enter the premises of the Embassy of Ecuador in London, which ended the diplomatic asylum status enjoyed by the whistleblower.
Asylum status withdrawn
Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno said on Thursday that Quito had removed Julian Assange’s status as a diplomatic asylum because of repeated violations of international conventions.
“Ecuador has decided sovereignly to withdraw the diplomatic asylum to Julian Assange for repeatedly violating international conventions and the protocol of cohabitation,” wrote Lenin Moreno on Twitter.
Possible extradition to the United States
As stated by Julian Assange’s lawyer, his client could be extradited to the United States. According to Julian Assange’s mother, it is possible for him to appear before the Tribunal within 24 hours. It would be punishable by up to 12 months in prison.
Australia expressed confidence that Assange will benefit from fair judicial treatment in the United Kingdom.
According to President Moreno, Assange will not be extradited to a country where he faces the death penalty.
Reopening of the rape inquiry requested
The lawyer of the woman who accuses Julian Assange of rape in Sweden in 2010 said Thursday she was going to ask the prosecution to reopen the investigation after the arrest of the founder of WikiLeaks in London.
“We will do everything so that the prosecutors reopen the Swedish investigation and that Assange is handed over to Sweden and brought to justice for rape,” said Elisabeth Massi Fritz to AFP.
“As long as the crime is not prescribed, my client is hopeful that justice will be done,” she added.
Reactions of the international community
Responding to the arrest of WikiLeaks’ founder, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We hope all his rights will be respected.”
The spokesperson of the Russian diplomacy, Maria Zakharova, for her part wrote on Facebook about this: “The hand of the” democracy “strangles the freedom”.
According to the representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the arrest of the founder of WikiLeaks violates the rights of the journalist and shows total disregard for the freedom of the press.
“This whole story with Assange is not a question of today. The whole story of his persecution, his harassment, the creation of inhuman living conditions is a way to relegate the freedom of speech and the right to disseminate information to oblivion. It is a blow to the rights of the journalist,” Maria Zakharova said Thursday during a press briefing in Moscow.
In France, Jean-Luc Mélenchon described Lenin Moreno as a “traitor”, adding that he was also a “US pitcher”.
— Jean-Luc Mélenchon (@JLMelenchon) April 11, 2019
“France should have granted asylum to Julian Assange for years!”, Has abounded on Twitter the president of France’s Debt, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: “to welcome the whistleblowers, defenders of the democracy, should be the ‘honor of our country’.
La France aurait dû accorder l'asile à Julian Assange depuis des années !
Accueillir les lanceurs d'alerte, défenseurs de la démocratie, devrait être l'honneur de notre pays.
Stéphanie Gibaud, au courage exemplaire dans l'affaire UBS, lutte à mes côtés pr leur liberté.#Wikileaks pic.twitter.com/GH2S8Fuy6i
— N. Dupont-Aignan (@dupontaignan) April 11, 2019
Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on Thursday accused his successor Lenin Moreno of being responsible for the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in London, calling him “the biggest traitor in Latin American history.”
“It puts Assange’s life in danger and humbles Ecuador. World Day of Mourning, “Rafael Correa wrote on his Twitter account shortly after Assange’s arrest.
Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Manlio Di Stefano has called for the release of Julian Assange. As he had published on Twitter on Thursday, this arrest corresponds to an “intolerance to the spread of truth and freedom.”
L’arresto di Assange, dopo 7 anni di ingiusta privazione di libertà, è una inquietante manifestazione di insofferenza verso chi promuove trasparenza e libertà come #WikiLeaks. Amici britannici, il mondo vi guarda, l’Italia vi guarda. Libertà per Assange. #Assange #JulianAssange pic.twitter.com/dmHHYQWUQA
— Manlio Di Stefano (@ManlioDS) April 11, 2019
Theresa May praised Assange’s arrest, saying “No one is above the law”. British Interior Minister Jeremy Hunt, asked about Sky News, stressed that Assange was not “a hero” and that his future would be decided by British justice in complete independence.
The European Commission is closely following the arrest of WikiLeaks’ founder in London, said EC spokesperson Margaritis Schinas on Thursday, but said it was a court case in which officials should not to interfere.
Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said about Julian Assange’s arrest that freedom of expression was “under attack again in Europe”.
The American actress Pamela Anderson, “in shock”, judges on Twitter that Assange has “very bad looks” and wonders “how Ecuador and Great Britain have been able to act like this”.
Julian Assange’s story
As a reminder, in 2012, Julian Assange found asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in order to escape extradition to Sweden where he was wanted for rape and sexual assault. Although the lawsuit was discontinued in 2017, the Westminster Court upheld the arrest warrant against Assange, stating that it had been issued after he violated his bail conditions.
Julian Assange fears, in case of arrest, to be extradited to the United States where he is prosecuted for the disclosure of many US military secrets and diplomatic documents.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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