WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was taken into custody by British police Thursday morning after spending seven years hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Shortly after his arrest, footage appeared on social media sites showing the bearded Assange being forcefully removed from the embassy.
— Barnaby Nerberka (@barnabynerberka) April 11, 2019
Assange was loaded into a police van and transported to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where he appeared hours after his arrest. British officials were able to apprehend Assange inside the embassy after Ecuadorian officials revoked his asylum, claiming their patience with the man had “reached its limit,” press reports said.
— Comunicación Ecuador (@ComunicacionEc) April 11, 2019
The United States immediately issued a formal request for Assange’s extradition, where he’ll face charges for his organization’s efforts to aid former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in the release of sensitive military documents in 2010.
According to court documents unsealed today, the charge relates to Assange’s alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States,’ reads the Department of Justice press release.
‘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 stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications.'”
U.K. news agencies report in a hearing Thursday morning, Assange’s lawyers argued that he violated the conditions of his bail in 2012 because he knew he “would not receive a fair trial” and therefore was left no recourse but to seek asylum. However, the judge didn’t accept this explanation, calling Assange a “narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest.” He found Assange guilty of breaking his bail conditions and mandated that he return to court for an extradition hearing on May 2nd.
Manning served approximately seven years in prison before having her sentence commuted by President Barrack Obama prior to his leaving office. According to the Justice Department, Assange faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for his role in the leaks, though it remains unclear if he’ll face additional charges.
The release also offers a glimpse into the relationship between Assange and Manning as the intelligence soldier accessed and transmitted sensitive documents to Assange.
During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange. The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that ‘after this upload, that’s all I really have got left.’ To which Assange replied, ‘curious eyes never run dry in my experience.'”