What many of us who’ve been paying attention have suspected for some time has finally come to pass. British police have arrested Wikleaks founder and former editor Julian Assange at the invitation of the Ecuadorian government of Lenin Moreno. Footage of the arrest is provided by Ruptly and can be viewed below. Assange, whom no one should have expected to go quietly, can be heard shouting, “UK Must Resist.”
Assange was granted asylum and Ecuadorian citizenship in 2012 by then-president Rafael Correa who had this to say upon learning the news of Assange’s arrest:
The greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history, Lenin Moreno, allowed the British police to enter our embassy in London to arrest Assange. Moreno is a corrupt man, but what he has done is a crime that humanity will never forget.
Assange will be brought before a British magistrate regarding charges of jumping bail. There is also reportedly an extradition request by the U.S. on charges of conspiring with Chelsea Manning to hack into classified government computers. Supposedly, Washington has agreed to take the death penalty off the table. How generous of them.
An in-depth discussion of the arrest and charges and the implications for journalism and a free press are discussed in this Democracy Now! segment with Glenn Greenwald, Jessalyn Radack, and two members of Assange’s legal team:
Edward Snowden responded on Twitter with the following comment:
Images of Ecuador’s ambassador inviting the UK’s secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of–like it or not–award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books. Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom.
Indeed it is. Popular Resistance.org has put out a call for protests at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. as well as other British embassies around the country. I will post any other calls for action I hear about in the future. I will close with a message from Assange’s mother, Christine, which she posted to Twitter after she heard of Julian’s arrest:
I have just spoken to one of Julians lawyers. Julian is likely to appear before a UK Magistrate within 24 hrs re (old defunct) “bail warrant” UK likely to seek max prison term of 12 months in higher court. Our focus is as always to STOP a U.S. Extradition! Let’s get to it!