Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange was arrested this morning and taken into police custody for breaching UK bail conditions, with his lawyer adding that it was also in relation to a US extradition request.
Assange was taken into custody in central London this morning after seven years residing at the Ecuadorian embassy.
Assange has been living in the embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced allegations of sexual assault that have since been dropped.
Metropolitan police officers arrested the controversial political activist on a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates' Court on 29 June 2012. He was arrested for breaching bail conditions.
Scotland Yard released a statement this afternoon confirming that Assange had also been arrested on behalf of the US authorities for extradition.
"Julian Assange, 47, has today, Thursday 11 April, been further arrested on behalf of the United States authorities, at 10:53hrs after his arrival at a central London police station, " it said. "This is an extradition warrant under Section 73 of the Extradition Act. He will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates' Court as soon as possible."
"The MPS 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."
Assange has been wanted in the US for his role in publishing a series of leaks provided by former soldier Chelsea Manning relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Ecuadorian president, Lenin Moreno, said the country had taken the "sovereign decision" to remove asylum for Assange.
"The discourteous and aggressive behaviour of Mr Assange, the hostile and threatening declarations of its allied organisation, 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," he said.
After the arrest, Wikileaks tweeted that Assange did not "walk out of the embassy". "The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested," it said.
The Met confirmed the ambassador invited officers into the embassy to execute the warrant.
Tweeting a picture of Assange, Wikileaks said: "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 dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison him."
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 dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison him. #ProtectJulian pic.twitter.com/dVBf1EcMa5
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
Sajid Javid, the home secretary, tweeted: https://twitter.com/sajidjavid/status/1116273602574340096
Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said Assange's arrest meant that "nobody is above the law", saying the activist was "no hero".
"He's hidden from the truth for years and years and it's right that his future should be decided in the British judicial system," he said.
"What has happened today is the result of years of careful diplomacy by the Foreign Office. [It's] a very courageous decision by President Moreno in Ecuador to resolve this situation that's been going on for nearly seven years."
"It's not so much that Julian Assange was being held hostage in the Ecuadorian Embassy, it was actually Julian Assange holding the Ecuadorian Embassy hostage," Hunt added. "It was a situation that was absolutely intolerable to them."
The footage of Assange's arrest was captured by the Ruptly international news agency:
— Barnaby Nerberka (@barnabynerberka) April 11, 2019
Assange's arrest comes after a breakdown in relations between Assange and the Ecuadorian authorities, who said days ago that it reserved the right to conduct an investigation into Assange for allegedly leaking information about Moreno’s personal life.
Meanwhile celebrity and Assange ally Pamela Anderson said she was "in shock", claiming the UK arrested him because "you need a diversion from your idiotic Brexit bullsh*t".
I am in shock..
I couldn’t hear clearly what he said?
He looks very bad.
How could you Equador ?
(Because he exposed you).
How could you UK. ?
Of course – you are America’s bitch and
you need a diversion from your idiotic Brexit bullshit.
— Pamela Anderson (@pamfoundation) April 11, 2019