WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange was arrested in London on Thursday morning, after Ecuadorian diplomatic officials invited British police into the country’s embassy to apprehend the Australian.
Assange had been living in the embassy of Ecuador in London under diplomatic asylum since 2012, and was granted citizenship by Ecuador in 2017.
Ruptly journalist Barnaby Nerberka has been broadcasting live from the embassy since tensions escalated between WikiLeaks and the Ecuadorian government of Lenin Moreno last week, and captured the arrest on camera.
— Barnaby Nerberka (@barnabynerberka) April 11, 2019
Last week, WikiLeaks said sources within the Ecuadorian government told them that Assange was due to be expelled from the embassy “within hours to days,” an allegation the Ecuadorians were quick to deny. It now seems those reports were accurate.
WikiLeaks has maintained that Assange is likely to be extradited to the United States if expelled from the embassy, and was mocked as paranoid by some in the mainstream media for repeated claims that sealed charges existed in the U.S. against the journalist. WikiLeaks was eventually vindicated, as the existence of those sealed charges was revealed in November last year.
In June last year, Vice President Mike Pence pressured the Ecuadorian government on the status of Assange following demands from Senate Democrats that he do so. The New York Times reported in December that Ecuador has been offered debt relief by the U.S. in exchange for handing over Assange.
BREAKING: Julian Assange’s attorney says he’s been arrested on US extradition request as well as for breaching UK bail conditions.
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 11, 2019
While he was alive, neoconservative Senator John McCain claimed that leaks provided to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, which included the diplomatic cables, caused U.S. foreign sources to be harmed.
However, it was in fact an error on the part of a Guardian journalist, not WikiLeaks, that that led to the full unredacted cables leaking to third parties on the web that WikiLeaks published them as well — and not before Assange attempted to warn the office of Hillary Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State about the unintended leak of the cables.
A United Nations special rapporteur recently urged Ecuador not to expel the WikiLeaks publisher, warning that the risk of extradition without due process safeguards would lead to a risk of human rights violations.
“Extradition without due process safeguards, including an individual risk assessment and adequate protection measures violates international law, particularly if the destination state practices the death penalty and has not disclose the criminal charges held against the person concerned” warned the rapporteur.
UPDATE: Former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, who originally granted Assange asylum nearly seven years ago, condemned his predecessor Lenin Moreno as a “traitor” for the expulsion of the WikiLeaks publisher.”
The greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history, Lenin Moreno, allowed the British police to enter our embassy in London to arrest Assange.
Moreno is a corrupt man, but what he has done is a crime that humanity will never forget. https://t.co/XhT51MA6c6
— Rafael Correa (@MashiRafael) April 11, 2019