Wikileaks Leader Drug From Embassy and Arrested
11 Apr, 2019
British police dragged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange out of Ecuador’s embassy on Thursday after his seven-year asylum was revoked, paving the way for his extradition to the United States for one of the biggest ever leaks of classified information.
Hours after the frail-looking Assange, with white hair and a long beard, was carried head-first by at least seven men out of the London embassy and into a waiting police van, U.S. officials announced he had been charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
As he was being hauled out of the embassy in a dramatic scene shortly after 0900 GMT after Ecuador terminated his asylum, the Australian-born Assange was heard shouting, “This is unlawful, I’m not leaving.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May hailed the news in parliament, to cheers and cries of “Hear, hear!” from lawmakers.
But in Washington, President Donald Trump, who in 2016 said “I love WikiLeaks” after the website released emails that U.S. authorities have said were hacked by Russia to harm his election opponent Hillary Clinton, told reporters he had no opinion on the charges against Assange.
“I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing,” Trump said.
Assange gave a thumbs up in handcuffs as he was taken from a police station to a London court, where he pronounced himself not guilty of failing to surrender in 2012.
Judge Michael Snow called Assange, wearing a black jacket and black shirt, a “narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests” and convicted him of skipping bail. Sentencing will be at a later date.
Police said they arrested Assange, 47, after being invited into the embassy following Ecuador’s withdrawal of asylum. He took refuge there in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault investigation that was later dropped.
Assange was carried out of the building – located behind the luxury department store Harrods – carrying a copy of Gore Vidal’s “History of The National Security State”, which he continued reading in court.
In Washington, the U.S. Justice Department said Assange was charged with conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to gain access to a government computer as part of a 2010 leak by WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of U.S. military reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and American diplomatic communications. Legal experts said more U.S. charges could be coming.
The indictment was made secretly in March 2018 and unsealed on Thursday. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted, with legal experts saying more charges were possible.
Ecuador suspended Julian Assange’s citizenship and accused him and others at WikiLeaks of collaborating in attempts to destabilize the Andean nation’s government.
Assange was offered refuge in 2012 by Ecuador’s then-president Rafael Correa, but his relationship with Ecuador soured under Correa’s successor Lenin Moreno, who has said Assange violated the terms of his asylum. Ecuador accused Assange of leaking information about Moreno’s personal life.
Lawyers for Assange said he may risk torture and his life would be in danger if he were to be extradited to the United States.
Image ebinprakash twitter
Mentioned In This Post: