Seven years after he had taken shelter inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the Metropolitan Police on Thursday morning were permitted to enter the embassy and arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for failing to surrender to a court warrant issued in 2012.
According to London police, the Australian computer programmer was arrested again and indicted by US Justice Department officials furnished with extradition papers. They charged him with conspiring with former United States Army soldier Chelsea Manning to hack into a classified government computer.
Assange appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday afternoon, where a representative of the UK Home Office confirmed the American extradition request, stating that Assange “is accused in the United States of America of computer related offenses.”
Sweden also wanted a day in court with Assange, and in November 2010 issued an international arrest warrant over allegations of sexual assault and rape. The warrant was later dropped.
During the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries, Assange’s WikiLeaks hosted emails belonging Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her senior staff. The Democrats blamed Russian intelligence for hacking the Clinton campaign and leaking them to WikiLeaks at intervals that would cause the worst damage. Assange said Clinton was being hysterical. Assange was eventually named as a defendant in a 2018 lawsuit filed by the Democratic National Committee for his alleged connection to the hacking of its emails in 2016.
The arrest was no surprise: on April 4, WikiLeaks tweeted: “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.”
Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno on Thursday issued a video statement saying he was evicting Assange for his “discourteous and aggressive behavior,” and “the hostile and threatening declarations of his allied organization against Ecuador.” Moreno also cited Assange’s “transgression of international treaties.”
Moreno also said Assange “violated the norm of not intervening in internal affairs of other states,” noting that “the most recent incident occurred in January 2019, when WikiLeaks leaked Vatican documents. Key members of that organization visited Mr. Assignee before and after such illegal acts.”
So it was messing with the pope that did him in…