Seven years after he first entered Ecuador’s embassy in London seeking asylum, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested by British police and faces extradition to the United States.
A bedraggled and sickly looking Assange on Thursday was dragged out of the building in the UK capital by officers and bundled into a police van after the South American country abruptly revoked his asylum earlier in the morning.
The Australian national, 47, was initially arrested for breaching bail terms and was later found guilty before a London court.
Assange skipped bail in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault.
The judge said Assange displayed the “behaviour of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest”. He faces one year in prison and will be sentenced at a later date.
Earlier on Thursday, police said they had been “invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorean government’s withdrawal of asylum”. Assange was arrested upon arrival at a police station on behalf of the US after it requested his extradition, police added.
US federal prosecutors meanwhile charged him with computer hacking and aiding whistle-blower Chelsea Manning, which they said carries a potential five-year prison term. His hearing will take place next month via video link.
Speaking to reporters outside the court, WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson said the case sets a dangerous precedent, and that Assange may face even more charges if he is delivered to the US.
“Anyone who wants to press to be free should consider the implications of this case. If they will extradite a journalist to the US, then no journalist will be safe”.
“There is no assurance that there won’t be additional charges when he is on US soil,” Hrafnsson added.