The US charges Julian Assange after Ecuador ends his 7-year asylum in its London embassy
British police dramatically arrested Julian Assange at around 09:00 GMT today after the Ecuadorian government rescinded his asylum status. Assange had been living in the country's embassy in London since June 2012 after being granted asylum by former President, Rafael Correa. The WikiLeaks founder had fled to the embassy following an international arrest warrant being issued in his name relating to allegations of rape and sexual assault in Sweden, which have since been dropped.
Assange's arrest comes a week after WikiLeaks tweeted that Ecuador planned to expel the Australian within "hours to days" in what appears to be retaliation for the publication of the INA Papers, or at least Assange's part in it. The INA Papers, which have been published here, allege that Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno and his family have used offshore companies to commit money laundering and tax fraud among other crimes. WikiLeaks claims to have not published the INA Papers and that it only reported on the matter, although multiple Ecuadorian officials have attributed their publication to the international organisation.
Assange has been charged with breaching the terms of his bail in 2012 and has since been charged by the US, to where he could face extradition, with conspiracy to breach a classified U.S. government computer with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010. This resulted in Manning providing over 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks in what the United States Department of Justice called "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States". Assange could face up to five years imprisonment if convicted, but the DoJ stressed that sentences for federal crimes are "typically less than the maximum penalties". Assange has also been found guilty of failing to surrender to the court for which he could also face 12 months' imprisonment in the UK.
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