Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested in London on Thursday almost seven years after he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy. He has been fugitive for publishing state secrets that embarrassed governments across the world. Assange was wanted by British police for skipping bail in August 2012, while he was under investigation for sexual assault and rape in Sweden.
Metropolitan Police of London said the Ecuadorian government had withdrawn asylum for Assange, adding that officers had been “invited into the embassy by the ambassador.”
Footage of the arrest showed an unkept Assange being carried out of the building by seven men. As he was put into a waiting police van, Assange shouted: “You must resist. You can resist … the U.K. must resist.”
He was taken to a local police station and is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court “as soon as is possible,” authorities said.
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said in a video message that Assange had his diplomatic asylum withdrawn due to “repeatedly violating international conventions.”
Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, criticized Assange’s arrest.
“The hand of ‘democracy’ squeezes the throat of freedom,” she said in a Facebook post.
WikiLeaks wrote in a tweet that Assange’s political asylum had been “illegally terminated in violation of international law.”
The group has continually claimed that the Justice Department is building a criminal case focused on the leaking of Democratic emails hacked by the Russians in the 2016 election.
Assange, who is 47-years-old has always maintained that the source of the leaks was not Russia. This is contrary to the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies.
In November 2010, the Swedish government released an international arrest warrant for Assange in connection with allegations of sexual assault and rape from two women. Assange, who has denied the allegations, surrendered to British police the following month and was released on bail. He then fled and broke the terms of his bond agreement.
In 2016, the Ecuadorian government removed his access to the internet in the embassy after WikiLeaks published a number of emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.