Assange found guilty of breach of bail in UK after arrest, faces extradition to US


London, April 11: Seven years after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in central London, he was arrested on Thursday following withdrawal of his asylum status and an extradition request from the United States.
Assange, 47, was due to be produced in the Westminster Magistrates Court, which deals with extradition cases. A symbol of freedom of speech to many but not so for others, he founded the website that released caches of classified information.
“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”, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said after the arrest.
Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno announced the withdrawal of Assange’s asylum after his alleged repeated violations of international conventions, while WikiLeaks tweeted that Ecuador allegedly acted illegally in terminating the asylum status.
According to Hunt, “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”, he said.
However, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell accused Ecuador of failing to protect Assange, calling Ecuador’s decision to hand over Assange to the UK police ‘a clear violation’ of his Ecuadorean citizenship and asylum rights.
“Assange did not leak anything. He published the leaks of Chelsea Manning, as did The Guardian and New York Times. Why is he being signalled out? Assange published evidence of American war crimes. He’s a hero, not a criminal,” he said.
“The British government should refuse to do the bidding of the Trump administration. It should give public assurances that Assange will not be handed over the US authorities. His extradition to the US is not in the public interest,” Tatchell added. (Agencies)