Julian Assange, editor of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, has been arrested by the Metropolitan Police for failing to surrender to a court.
According to a statement by the Metropolitan Police, Assange was arrested at the Embassy of Ecuador in Knightsbridge where he has been resident since June 19 2012. The warrant was issued on June 29 2012.
A statement from the Home Office confirmed that Assange was “arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America” where he is accused of computer related offences.
He will remain in custody at a central London police station before being presented before Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as it is possible.
The Met Police said that it had a duty to execute the warrant, on behalf of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, and was invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.
Before 2012, WikiLeaks released classified cables which contained classified and confidential documents and conversations. It had also released footage from a Baghdad airstrike in 2007 when Iraqi journalists were killed, and later in 2016 it released emails and other documents from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.
In 2017, it began releasing the “Vault7 and Vault 8” CIA tools and later released source code for the tools.
In the indictment, issued by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Alexandria, Virginia, alleged that Assange knew that Chelsea Manning “was providing WikiLeaks with classified records containing national defense information of the United States” and was “knowingly receiving such classified records from Manning for the purpose of publicly disclosing them on the Wikileaks website.” Manning, whose remaining sentence was commuted by President Obama in 2017, used a US DoD computer to download the cables that were later released.
The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged with Manning to assist in cracking a password stored on US Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a US government network used for classified documents and communications. Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks.
Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her.
The charges read that Assange “knowingly access[ed] a computer without authorization and exceeding authorized access, to obtain information that has been determined by the United States Government pursuant to an Executive Order and statute to require protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national defense classified up to the ‘secret’ level, with reason to believe that such information so obtained could be used to the injury of the United States and the advantage of any foreign nation.”
The “purpose and object of the conspiracy” was to “facilitate Manning’s acquisition and transmission of classified information related to the national defense of the United States so that WikiLeaks could publicly disseminate the information on its website.”
Speaking on Twitter, WikiLeaks claimed that Ecuador has illegally “terminated Assange’s political asylum in violation of international law” and that Assange was arrested inside the Ecuadorian embassy.
“Julian Assange did not ‘walk out of the embassy’. The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested.”
According to BBC News, Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno said it withdrew Mr Assange’s asylum after his repeated violations to international conventions.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid, said: “Nearly seven years after entering the Ecuadorean Embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK. I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation and the Metropolitan Police for its professionalism. No one is above the law.”
Source: Infosecurity Magazine