Julian Assange’s seven years on the run came to a dramatic close this morning when police entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrested him.
The move came after Ecuador withdrew the asylum that they had been giving Assange, citing bad behavior. They invited London Metropolitan Police officers into the embassy.
Police immediately detained Assange for “failing to surrender to the court” on a 2012 warrant and is being held in custody at a central London police station. He will appear before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London as soon as possible, according to CNN.
Assange was not surprised by the action – on April 4, the WikiLeaks organization tweeted that he expected to be expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy “within hours or days.”
BREAKING: A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told @WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within "hours to days" using the #INAPapers offshore scandal as a pretext–and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest.https://t.co/adnJph79wq
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 4, 2019
On April 5, Assange’s legal team issued a statement saying, “It will be a sad day for democracy if the UK and Ecuadorian governments are willing to act as accomplices to the Trump administration’s determination to prosecute a publisher for publishing truthful information.”
According to a video statement issued by Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno, Assange’s asylum was withdrawn due to “discourteous and aggressive behavior,” “hostile and threatening declarations of his allied organization against Ecuador,” and “the transgression of international treaties.”
Assange, who is famous for his whistleblowing through the webpage Wikileaks, has been inside the embassy since 2012, when he requested asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was facing sexual assault allegations. That case has since been dropped, but Assange also feared he would be extradited to the U.S. due to his WikiLeaks work.
WikiLeaks published nearly 20,000 emails from Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffers during the 2016 elections showing the DNC appearing to favor Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during that year’s presidential primary. It’s believed that those emails may have helped to sway voters against Clinton, resulting in the election of Donald Trump.
In 2018, a US court filing revealed that the U.S. government planned to bring criminal charges against Assange as a result.
British Foreign Office Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan thanked Ecuador for withdrawing Assange’s asylum, saying, “We are very grateful to the Government of Ecuador under President Moreno for the action they have taken.”
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.