WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to US, to face charges of computer hacking

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 13 June 2019, 03:10 PM
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, to be extradited to US; British Home Secretary signs order
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, to be extradited to US; British Home Secretary signs order

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be extradited to the US, latest media reports said on Thursday. The development came after British Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed the extradition order. Assange was arrested last month. He had spent seven years in Ecuador's embassy in London, the UK police. After the arrest, WikiLeaks took to Twitter and had said that, “Julian Assange did not "walk out of the embassy". The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested.” WikiLeaks had accused the Ecuadorian government of spying on Assange as tensions mounted between the WikiLeaks founder and his 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.

"He (Assange) 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," a Metropolitan Police statement said, adding that Assange had been arrested on a warrant issued by the same court on June 29 2012, for "failing to surrender to the court." "The MPS (Met Police Service) had a duty to execute the warrant, on behalf of Westminster Magistrates' Court, and was invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government's withdrawal of asylum," the statement said.

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 US charges related to WikiLeaks' publication of classified documents.

He also faces arrest in Britain for jumping bail. Relations between Assange and his Ecuadorian hosts have turned sour in recent weeks with a series of accusations from both sides.

Assange's team fears he may be expelled from his refuge. Ecuador's vice president, Otto Sonnenholzner, says Assange will 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 has allowed the country to cut its budget for maintaining Assange, which officials had estimated at $1 million a year.

It sets rules on visits, medical spending, food, internet use and other issues. Sonnenholzner said Foreign Minister Jos Valencia will present a report about compliance with the protocol to President Lenn Moreno on Wednesday, and will do the same on Thursday to congressional leaders.

Following the report, he said, "we will see ... what happens in that situation."

Meanwhile, Swedish prosecutors reopened their investigation into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who remains in prison in London for breach of bail conditions on the charge. The 47-year-old denies the allegation and has avoided extradition to Sweden to face the charge for seven years after seeking refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012.

First Published: Thursday, June 13, 2019 02:57 PM
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