Julian Assange was arrested early Thursday morning by police in London after the Ecuadorian government rescinded its offer of asylum to the Wikileaks founder and evicted him, multiple reports state.
Assange, 47, had been living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, after the South American country granted him asylum for his claims that he was being politically persecuted by the United States and its allies. However, Assange had reportedly worn out his welcome at the Ecuadorian embassy, and once they rescinded the asylum request Thursday morning, British police were there to arrest him, ending a seven-year long standoff.
In an indictment unsealed a few hours later, the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed that Assange has been charged with one count of conspiracy for his role in assisting Chelsea Manning to hack a Department of Defense computer in 2010. The conspiracy charge stems from what prosecutors say was an agreement between Assange and Manning to crack Defense Department password. Cracking the password allowed Manning to infiltrate a secret government network to download thousands of military and diplomatic documents, and send them to Wikileaks. Assange could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange. The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that “after this upload, that’s all I really have got left”. To which Assange replied, “curious eyes never run dry in my experience”.
Shortly after he arrived in court, Assange was charged with breaking bail conditions back in 2012 after he did not surrender for bail. Lawyers for Assange argued that the Wikileaks founder requested asylum because he never would have recieved a fair trial.
CNN reports that the British judge disputed this, calling Assange a "narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest."
An extradition request for Assange has been made by the Justice Department, the press release said. Assange has the right to contest his extradition in a British court.
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