LONDON – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested on Thursday after British police were invited into the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been holed up since 2012.
“Julian Assange, 47, has today, Thursday 11 April, been arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) at the Embassy of Ecuador,” police said.
Police said they arrested Assange after being “invited into the embassy by the Ambassador,” following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.
“He has been taken into custody at a central London police station where he will remain, before being presented before Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as is possible,” police said in a statement.
WikiLeaks on Wednesday accused the Ecuadorian government of spying on Assange as tensions mounted between the WikiLeaks founder and his then-hosts.
The group’s editor-in-chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, told a news conference that Assange’s meetings with lawyers and a doctor had been secretly filmed by Ecuadorian authorities.
Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 and has been living there ever since.
Sweden has dropped an investigation into rape allegations against Assange, but he refuses to come out for fear of facing U.S. charges related to WikiLeaks’ publication of classified documents. He also faces arrest in Britain for jumping bail.
Relations between Assange and his Ecuadorian hosts had turned sour in recent weeks with a series of accusations from both sides.
Ecuador’s vice president, Otto Sonnenholzner, said Assange would have to “abide by the consequences” if he is found to have violated an embassy protocol put in place in October.
Speaking to the Sonorama radio station, he said, “The only thing Ecuador demands is fulfillment of the protocol, a protocol that limits certain privileges.”
He said the protocol imposed in October had allowed the country to cut its budget for maintaining Assange, which officials had estimated at $1 million a year.
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