Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, has been a thorn in the flesh of US national security for a long time. By creating a website where criminals can post security leaks and classified documents, he’s risked the security of this country and put intelligence agents and soldiers in unnecessary danger. For nearly seven years he’s been hiding from the law in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London — but now he’s in a British jail, and soon he’ll be on a plane to face American justice.
Australian-born Julian Assange founded Wikileaks in 2006 but rose to prominence in 2010 when renegade soldier, Bradley Manning, posted thousands of stolen classified documents to the site. The US launched a criminal investigation into Wikileaks — but before that concluded, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange on charges of sexual assault and rape.
- Assange was in the UK at the time and was arrested and released on bond while he appealed the extradition order to Sweden. In June 2012, his appeal was turned down; Assange broke his bail and claimed asylum in the embassy of Ecuador.
- Although Sweden dropped the rape charge in 2017, the Metropolitan Police said they still wanted to arrest Assange, this time for jumping bail. Meanwhile, US authorities requested his extradition on charges of computer hacking.
- As long as Ecuador gave him asylum and he stayed inside the embassy — which legally is Ecuadorian territory — Assange was safe from arrest. As soon as he stepped outside, the Metropolitan Police (who kept the building under regular surveillance) could arrest him. Incredibly, Assange stayed inside the embassy for almost seven years.
- However, on July 27, 2018, the President of Ecuador announced that he’d opened talks with the UK on withdrawing Assange’s asylum status. The negotiations also involved the US because the plan was to extradite Assange here. Following EU policy, the UK asked American authorities for assurances that Assange would not be executed if convicted.
- Thursday morning, embassy officials officially informed Assange that his asylum was being withdrawn. This had been coordinated with the Metropolitan Police, who were invited into the building moments later. When Assange saw the police he tried to flee to his private room but was caught and arrested.
- Left-wing politicians in the UK immediately condemned Assange’s arrest, with the opposition Labour Party’s home affairs spokeswoman Diane Abbott praising him for exposing “wrongdoing by US authorities.” However, the ruling Conservatives’ Foreign Secretary said, “What we have shown today is that nobody is above the law — Julian Assange is no hero. He’s hidden from the truth for years and years and it’s right that his future should be decided in the British judicial system.”