After having been domiciled in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy since June 2012, controversial WikiLeaks head Julian Assange has been removed from the building and subsequently arrested by UK authorities. On the morning of Thursday, April 11th, Assange was forcibly removed from the Embassy and was taken directly into police custody having failed to obey a bail warrant.
Such a warrant was issued by Westminster courts in June 2012, around the time when Assange sought asylum from Ecuador’s representation in the UK capital. However, he failed to respond to the demand.
The removal of the figurehead, which was foreshadowed by WikiLeaks’ own Twitter account last week, has reportedly only been possible as a result of the Embassy offering him asylum having finally altered their position.
WikiLeaks Co-Founder Julian Assange Arrested [video: Wibbitz Studio]
According to The Guardian, this appears to have been as a result of Assange’s ongoing activities from within the Embassy’s walls. Ecuador’s President, Lenin Moreno, confirmed such suspicions via Twitter. “In a sovereign decision Ecuador withdrew the asylum status to Julian Assange after his repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols.” [sic]
Assange, having failed to leave the Embassy in light of increasing demand by certain authorities, has been reportedly concerned that he will be extradited to the US as a result of his website’s leaks of classified documents and reports over the years. The police, however, took action as was their right, according to a statement made by Scotland Yard.
“The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] has 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.”
Assange, who is now in custody, had initially taken refuge in the Embassy in the summer of 2012 as a result of ongoing investigations into a sexual assault he had allegedly perpetrated in Sweden. Having already met with Swedish police for questioning, Assange appealed to Ecuador for local asylum in the UK on political grounds. However, Swedish authorities dropped charges against the figure as of May 2017.
Despite this, charges against Assange for failing to attend to bail conditions set in 2010 remained. It is these charges which have finally been acted on after Ecuador removed the asylum protection. With US President Donald Trump claiming to know ‘nothing’ about WikiLeaks and therefore offering no comment at this time, it remains to be seen what action the US could take from here – now that Assange is no longer protected.
Donald Trump: I know 'nothing about WikiLeaks'
[video: Press Association STUDIO]