Metropolitan police entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on the 11th of April 2019, and arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on a US warrant and brought his seven-year confinement to a riveting close. Officers moved in after Ecuador withdrew his asylum at the embassy and invited authorities into the embassy, blaming Assange’s apparent misbehaviour. The US Department of Justice affirmed Assange had been indicted on a single charge of conspiring to steal military secrets with Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who supplied thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
The indictment, signed on March 6 last year and unsealed on the 13th, alleges Assange conspired “to assist Manning in cracking a password” on Department of Defense computer systems. Assange, an Australian, appeared at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London where he was charged with failing to surrender in 2012. One of his lawyers argued that he declined to do so for fear that he would not receive an impartial trial, forcing him to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
The judge, nevertheless, called Assange, “a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests,” and found him guilty of breaking his bail conditions. According to the BBC, Assange must also appear for an extradition hearing on May 2, where he will remain in custody until then. Furthermore, Jennifer Robinson, a member of Assange’s legal team, said they had been proven right in regards to their previous warnings that Assange would face deportation to United States for his “publishing activities” since 2010.
Following the virality of Assange’s arrest, opinion on his extradition remains divided. Some argue its necessity over Assange’s alleged hacking while others cite his arrest as a threat to free speech.
Article by Christopher Kirch