The man that time (almost) forgot

Staff Writer | Apr 12, 2019
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, has finally left the building.

After a nearly seven years’ stay at Ecuador's embassy in London, the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, was arrested there after Ecuador withdrew his asylum.

Assange sought refuge in the embassy in 2012 after being accused of sexual assault in Sweden – allegations that have since been dropped.

Assange had refused to leave the embassy, fearing ultimate extradition to the United States, where WikiLeaks said he faces charges over his website publishing huge caches of hacked State Department and Pentagon files.

The 47-year-old Australian was to appear in court on yesterday, 11 April, hours after his arrest. He faces prosecution for breaching the conditions of his bail in Britain in 2012.

"Ecuador has illegally terminated Assange’s political asylum in violation of international law," WikiLeaks said on Twitter.

WikiLeaks claimed that it was being blackmailed by "dubious characters" who had obtained security camera footage of Assange inside the embassy.

WikiLeaks accused Ecuadorean authorities of gathering the images, which he said then found their way into the hands of a group in Spain, who were demanding $3m (2.7 million euros) not to publish them.

The documents include thousands of photographs and gigabytes of video footage showing Assange meeting with lawyers and visitors, and of him receiving a medical check-up.

WikiLeaks believes that the United States is working with Ecuador to extradite Assange to face charges, and that the embassy documents were "quite likely shared with the Trump administration", although it has offered no proof of this.

Some of the leaks included unflattering portrayals of many African governments, and critical remarks related to African political leaders, including Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe.

Russia accused Britain of "strangling freedom" with Assange's arrest. The charge was made in a Facebook message by foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

 

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