WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange has been residing in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, after seeking asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden. After being holed up in the embassy for seven years, this week, Ecuador withdrew Assange’s asylum status, allowing British police to go in and arrest him.
Initially, Assange sought asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault charges. Due to the prominence of WikiLeaks, the UK and US governments also ended up taking a keen interest in him. Police have confirmed that the arrest was conducted not just on behalf of the UK, but also on behalf of US authorities, who have issued an extradition warrant.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) April 11, 2019
For those who don’t know, WikiLeaks first rose to prominence in 2010, after the site published classified US documents, which were leaked by Chelsea Manning. Over the years, the site has become a point of controversy, particularly during the 2016 Presidential Election campaign. During this time, WikiLeaks published leaked emails from the Clinton campaign. This ultimately led to accusations that WikiLeaks aided in Russian interference with the 2016 election.
Assange hasn’t been the official editor of WikiLeaks for a while now. Last October, the Ecuadorian embassy gave him new house rules, which included restrictions on internet usage. As a result, Kristinn Hrafnsson was appointed as his replacement.
Now that Julian Assange has been arrested, he will have to appear before the Westminster Magistrates Court. After that, he could end up being passed off to US authorities to face charges there.
KitGuru Says: Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, has said that Assange’s asylum was revoked due to “discourteous and aggressive behaviour”. After seven long years, the arrest has finally happened. For better or worse, there is likely going to be plenty of fallout after this.