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Wikileaks co-founder, Julian Assange, arrested in London

Wikileaks co-founder, Julian Assange, has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, BBC reports.

Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday said he was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court.

He now faces US federal conspiracy charges related to one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets.

The UK would decide whether to extradite Assange, in response to allegations by the Department for Justice that he conspired with former US intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning, to download classified databases.

He faces up to five years in US prison if convicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said they would be fighting the extradition request. She said it set a “dangerous precedent” where any journalist could face US charges for “publishing truthful information about the United States”.

After his arrest, the 47-year-old Australian national was initially taken to a central London police station before appearing in court.

Dressed in a black suit and black polo shirt, he waved to the public gallery and gave thumbs up. He pleaded not guilty to the 2012 charge of failing to surrender to the court.

Finding him guilty of that charge, District Judge, Michael Snow, said Assange’s behaviour was “the behaviour of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest”.

He sent him to Southwark Crown Court for sentencing, where he faces up to 12 months in prison.

The court also heard that during his arrest at the embassy he had to be restrained and shouted: “This is unlawful, I am not leaving.”

The Wikileaks co-founder had been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, after seeking asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape allegation. The investigation into the alleged rape, which he denied, was later dropped.

Scotland Yard said it was invited into the embassy on Thursday by the ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.

Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno said the country had “reached its limit on the behaviour of Mr Assange”.

Mr Moreno said, “The most recent incident occurred in January 2019, when Wikileaks leaked Vatican documents.

“This and other publications have confirmed the world’s suspicion that Mr Assange is still linked to WikiLeaks and therefore involved in interfering in internal affairs of other states.”

His accusations against Assange also included blocking security cameras at the embassy, accessing security files and confronting guards.

Mr Moreno said the British government had confirmed in writing that Assange “would not be extradited to a country where he could face torture or the death penalty”.

The arrest comes a day after Wikileaks said it had uncovered an extensive spying operation against its co-founder at the Ecuadorian embassy.

There has been a long-running dispute between the Ecuadorian authorities and Assange about what he was and was not allowed to do in the embassy.

Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that the arrest showed that no one is above the law in the UK.

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