When Assange was pulled out of the building where he has been exiled for the past several years, he was seen with a long white beard, shouting to the crowd about his innocence and warning of the grave precedent that is being set with his arrest.
Assange has lived in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past 7 years, since 2012, when Sweden police were seeking to detain him to face questioning for a sexual assault case. The Sweedish case against Assange has been droped, but his troubles did not end with that. As many of his supporters predicted, that sexual assault charge was just an attempt to get him in custody so they could stop the work of Wikileaks.
“The idea that the US government can just extend its reach to any news outlet anywhere in the world and criminalize publication of documents … is extremely chilling,” Journalist Glenn Greenwald told Democracy Now.
.@ggreenwald says Julian Assange is not American and Wikileaks is a foreign-based news organization. “So the idea that the U.S. government can just extend its reach to any news outlet anywhere in the world and criminalize publication of documents … is extremely chilling.” pic.twitter.com/2mWlcpMume
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) April 11, 2019
Theresa May has given a statement about Assange. According to the Guardian, May said:
“I am sure that 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 Ecuadorian embassy. He has also been arrested in relation to an extradition request from the United States’ authorities. This is now a legal matter before the courts. The home secretary will make a statement on this later, but I would like to thank the Metropolitan Police for carrying out their duties with great professionalism and to welcome the cooperation of the Ecuadorian government in bringing this matter to a resolution. This goes to show that, in the United Kingdom, no one is above the law.”
The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has issued a longer statement on Assange’s arrest. He said:
“What we’ve shown today is that no one is above the law. Julian Assange is no hero. He has hidden from the truth for years and years and it is right that his future should be decided in the British judicial system. What’s happened today is the result of years of careful diplomacy by the Foreign Office and I commend particularly our ambassador in Ecuador and Sir Alan Duncan and his team here in London for their work. But it is also a very courageous decision from President Moreno in Ecuador to resolve this situation that has been going on for nearly seven years. I mean it’s not so much Julian Assange being held hostage in the Ecuadorian Embassy, it’s actually Julian Assange holding the Ecuadorian Embassy hostage in a situation that was absolutely intolerable for them. So this will now be decided properly, independently by the British legal system respected throughout the world for its independence and integrity and that is the right outcome.
“We have been talking to Ecuador for a very long time about how to resolve this situation. We are a law-abiding country and we will always uphold the law so we have to follow all the international rules in a situation like this. But there was a change of leadership in Ecuador. President Moreno took a courageous decision, which has meant we were able to resolve the situation today. We’re not making any judgment about Julian Assange’s innocence or guilt, that is for the courts to decide. But what is not acceptable is for someone to escape facing justice and he has tried to do that for a very long time and that is why he is no hero.”
Julian Assange / Photo Credit: Sky News
Assange is now facing charges in the US, and it is said that the United States government has requested his extradition. Assange is due to appear at Westminster magistrates court later this week, on Thursday.
Rafael Correa, who was Ecuadorian president when Assange was granted asylum, has condemned his successor’s decision. He tweeted that Lenin Moreno was the “greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history”.
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