World

UK cops enter Ecuadorean embassy, nab WikiLeaks founder Assange

LONDON WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by British police and carried out of the Ecuadorean embassy yesterday after his South American hosts abruptly revoked his seven-year asylum, paving the way for his extradition to the United States.

Iin June 2012, Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation.

Sweden dropped that investigation in 2017, but Assange was arrested yesterday for breaking the rules of his original bail in London.

The US alleged he engaged in a 2010 conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, who served seven years in military prison for leaking classified data, and charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion with a maximum penalty of five years.

An agitated, frail-looking Assange with white hair and a white beard was carried head first out of the embassy shortly after 9am GMT (5pm Singapore time) by at least seven men to a waiting police van.

"The whole House will welcome the news this morning that the Metropolitan Police have arrested Julian Assange, arrested for breach of bail after nearly seven years in the Ecuadorean embassy," Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament to cheers and cries of "Hear, hear!" from lawmakers.

Police said they arrested Assange, 47, after being invited into the embassy following the Ecuadorean government's withdrawal of asylum.

The arrest, after nearly seven years holed up in a few cramped rooms at the embassy, marks one of the most peculiar turns in a tumultuous life that has transformed the Australian programmer into a rebel wanted by the US.

Assange's relationship with his hosts collapsed after Ecuador accused him of leaking information about President Lenin Moreno's personal life.

Mr Moreno said Assange's diplomatic asylum status had been cancelled for repeated violation of conventions.

WikiLeaks angered Washington by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables that laid bare often highly critical US appraisals of world leaders, from Russian President Vladimir Putin to members of the Saudi royal family. - REUTERS

WORLD