Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested Thursday morning by British police. The arrest came soon after Ecuador announced that they withdrew his asylum for “repeatedly violating international conventions and protocol.”
The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, explained that his decision to take away Assange’s asylum was a “sovereign decision” based on Assange’s consistent violations. In a video statement posted to Twitter, Moreno said: “Today I announce that the discourteous and aggressive behavior of Mr. Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declarations of its allied organization, against Ecuador, and especially the transgression of international treaties, have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable.”
The video of Assange’s arrest showed an old man with a grizzly white beard, yelling out to reporters as he was being dragged out of the embassy by authorities, but what he was saying couldn’t be heard. The Foreign Minister to Ecuador, Jose Valencia, said in an interview with Teleamazonas this week that living in the embassy for so long has badly effected Assange’s “state of mind, his health,” but Assange obviously has the right to a defense and to a fair trial.
The Metropolitan Police of London made a promise earlier this month to arrest Assange, a 47-year-old native of Australia, if he were freed. Facing possible extradition to the U.S. for publishing thousands of classified diplomatic and military information through WikiLeaks, Assange lived in the embassy for more than six years.
The announcement of Assange’s arrest was released by British police shortly after Ecuador withdrew his asylum. In a tweet, Assange’s attorney, Jennifer Robinson, said: Assange “has been arrested not just for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a US extradition request.”
Last year, the U.S. Justice Department revealed that there was a sealed criminal case against Assange, although, it wasn’t made clear what he was being accused of. “We are aware of the reports that Julian Assange was taken into custody by United Kingdom authorities,” said Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi.
Assange’s arrest brought intense reactions from people all over the world, including Edward Snowden, Pamela Anderson, and UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. In a tweet, WikiLeaks accused Ecuador of “illegally” pulling Assange’s political asylum. They also accused Ecuador of violating international law. “This man is a son, a father, a brother. He has won dozens of journalism awards. He’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanize, delegitimize and imprison him,” wrote WikiLeaks on Twitter.
Snowden, who was responsible for leaking highly classified information from the NSA, tweeted that Assange’s arrest was “going to end up in the history books.” Pamela Anderson, who spoke to Fox News last year about her “romantic” relationship with Assange, spoke out against the U.S. and Britain on Twitter. Anderson wrote: “I am in shock. I couldn’t hear clearly what he said? He looks very bad. How could you [Ecuador]? (Because he exposed you).How could you UK. ? Of course – you are America’s b—h and you need a diversion from your idiotic Brexit b——t.” Anderson continued by saying: “And the USA? This toxic coward of a President. He needs to rally his base? – You are selfish and cruel. You have taken the entire world backwards. You are devils and liars and thieves. And you will ROTT And WE WILL RISE.”
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt thanked the government of Ecuador for cooperating with Assange’s arrest. “Julian Assange is no hero and no one is above the law. He has hidden from the truth for years. Thank you Ecuador and President @Lenin Moreno for your cooperation with @foreignoffice to ensure Assange faces justice,” tweeted Hunt.
Before Trump was inaugurated in 2017, Assange held an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News. Assange argued that Obama’s administration was pushing the narrative that Russia was interfering in the U.S. election to make Trump look bad. Assange also claimed that he wasn’t responsible for hacking the emails that he released from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee.