April 11, 2019
Ecuador terminated Assange’s asylum contract
Julian Assange speaks to the media outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Friday May 19, 2017. Image Credit: AP
By DONA CHERIAN, Web News Editor at Gulf News
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, has been found guilty of breaking bail conditions and has been ordered to appear before the court for an extradition hearing on May 2. Assange, 47, was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) of the United Kingdom at the Embassy of Ecuador, Hans Crescent, SW1 on Thursday.
Following the dramatic arrest, Assange appeared at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, charged in an arrest warrant issued for failing to surrender to the court in 2012. The May 2 hearing will determine Assange’s extradition to the United States of America on a conspiracy indictment there.
The US Department of Justice had charged Assange in 2018, on conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to commit computer intrusion in 2010. Manning had served a seven-year prison sentence for her disclosure of US military and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks. Released in 2017, she was arrested again in 2018 on a different charge – a judge held her in contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury on the 2010 charges.
In Thursday’s arrest, the MPS was invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum to Assange. He was taken into custody at a central London police station where he will remain, before reappearing in court on May 2.
WHO IS ASSANGE?
An Australian, Assange is a software developer, who came into the limelight with the launch of his website – WikiLeaks. Operating out of Sweden at the time, WikiLeaks was launched in 2007 as a whistle-blower website, Assange aimed to collect and release globally confidential information related to governments, politicians and other organisations.
In 2010 the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office issued an arrest warrant for Mr Assange on the basis of two separate allegations – one of rape and one of molestation. Assange said these claims were baseless. He was subsequently arrested in the United Kingdom (UK) but got bail, after which the Supreme Court in the UK ordered his extradition to Sweden to confront rape and molestation allegations. In 2012, when the United Kingdom issued a warrant to arrest him on charges of breaking bail conditions (based on which he has now been arrested) Assange sought asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy.
In June 2012 Assange went to the Ecuadorean embassy in London and claimed asylum, which was granted in August.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minster Ricardo Patino had said Assange’s human rights would be at risk if he were extradited and that Ecuador was being loyal to its tradition of protecting those who were vulnerable.