Wikileaks founder Assange arrested in London
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, police announced.
"He has been taken into custody at a central London police station where he will remain, before being presented before Westminster Magistrates' Court as soon as is possible," the statement reads.
The Metropolitan Police Service also said 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."
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said that Ecuador had decided to withdraw diplomatic asylum from Assange.
"Ecuador has made a sovereign decision to withdraw diplomatic asylum from Julian Assange over regular violations of international conventions," Moreno wrote on Twitter.
"Naturally, I believe this is totally inadmissible," he told the SVT TV channel. "We see clear signs indicating that the Americans want to convict him or have convicted him. Let’s see whether or not his concern was justified or exaggerated."
"There can be a secret extradition request from the Americans or it can be received now. We will find out within the next few days. To date, the US has been able to play its cards secretly, but it will not be able to do that any more," he added.
In addition, Moreno said that Ecuador has received guarantees from Britain that Assange will not be extradited to a country where he might face capital punishment.
"I requested Great Britain to guarantee that Mr. Assange would not be extradited to a country where he could face torture or the death penalty. The British government has confirmed it in writing, in accordance with its own rules," Moreno said.
The mother of Julian Assange said that Assange was likely to appear before a UK magistrates' court within 24 hours, adding that the UK was likely to seek a maximum prison term of 12 months for him in a higher court.
"I have just spoken to one of Julian's lawyers. Julian is likely to appear before a UK Magistrate within 24 hrs… UK [is] likely to seek max prison term of 12 months in higher court. Our focus is as always to STOP a U.S. Extradition!" Christine Assange wrote on Twitter.
The non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) believes that the arrest of Assange sets a dangerous precedent for journalists, RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire said on Twitter.
"Targeting Assange because of Wikileaks’ provision of information to journalists that was in the public interest would be a punitive measure and would set a dangerous precedent for journalists or their sources that the US may wish to pursue in future," the tweet reads.
Assange took refuge in Ecuador's London embassy in 2012 to escape extradition to Sweden, which had issued a warrant for his arrest on sexual harassment charges. Assange dismissed the accusations as politically motivated. His worst fear was Sweden might extradite him to the United States, where he would face 35 years in prison or capital punishment for publishing classified State Department documents. The case was dropped in 2017 but the United Kingdom continued to insist that Assange be arrested over his failure to appear in court in London.