(CNN) — Police entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London Thursday morning, arresting Julian Assange and bringing the WikiLeaks founder’s seven-year stint there to a dramatic close.
Video showed a heavily bearded Assange shouting and gesturing as multiple officers hustled him into a waiting police van.
Metropolitan Police said in a statement that he was “further arrested” on his arrival at a London police station on behalf of United States authorities, who have issued an extradition warrant.
Officers made the initial move to arrest Arrange after Ecuador withdrew his asylum and invited authorities into the embassy, citing the Australian’s bad behavior.
Assange has been holed up at the embassy, yards from the Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, since 2012, when he was granted asylum as part of a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was facing allegations of sexual assault.
The Swedish case has since been dropped, but the whistleblower feared US extradition due to his work with WikiLeaks and remained in the embassy. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno said in a video statement Thursday that his country withdrew Assange’s asylum due to his “discourteous and aggressive behaviour,” “the hostile and threatening declarations of his allied organisation against Ecuador” and “the transgression of international treaties.”
Assange “violated the norm of not intervening in internal affairs of other states,” Moreno said. “The most recent incident occurred in January 2019, when WikiLeaks leaked Vatican documents. Key members of that organisation visited Mr Assange before and after such illegal acts,” he added.
In July 2016, WikiLeaks published nearly 20,000 emails from Democratic National Committee staffers that appeared to show the committee favoring presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the US presidential primary.
Assange then told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the email release was timed to coincide with the start of the Democratic National Convention.
A US court filing in November 2018 inadvertently revealed US government efforts to criminally charge Assange.
Indicted on conspiracy
The Justice Department announced Thursday an indictment against Julian Assange on conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in 2010 with Chelsea Manning.
“The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password” on classified Defense Department computer systems, according to a Justice Department statement.
A lawyer for Assange indicated earlier Thursday the charges would be related to a conspiracy dating back to a 2010 release of stolen diplomatic documents by Chelsea Manning.
Signs that the US was moving on the case emerged in recent weeks when prosecutors subpoenaed Manning to testify before a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia. She remains detained because she has refused to testify before a grand jury about her disclosure of military and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks.
On Thursday, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, an attorney for Manning, said Assange’s arrest does not offer a “foregone conclusion” that her client will be released.
“Were (Assange) to be extradited we hope it would signal her release but that is not, unfortunately, a foregone conclusion,” Meltzer-Cohen said.