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(ZH) Update (7:20 am ET): Assange’s lawyer has just confirmed that he was arrested not solely on charges stemming from skipping bail in the UK…but in connection with an extradition request from the US.

The US warrant was delivered in December 2017.

* * *

Press reports suggested that Assange was arrested at around 10 am London Time (5 am New York) in what appeared to be a “planned operation.” Though his first battle will be with the British legal system over charges of skipping bail when he sought asylum in 2012, analysts expect that he will eventually face extradition to the US, after a sealed indictment against him were accidentally revealed last year. Wikileaks accused Ecuador of illegally terminating Assange’s asylum, adding that the Ecuadorian ambassador invited police inside the embassy to take Assange into custody.

In a tweet published moments ago, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said that Assange’s “discourteous and aggressive” behavior, as well as “hostile” acts committed by Wikileaks, pushed Ecuador to revoke his asylum. Moreno cited Wikileaks’ publication of sensitive Vatican documents earlier this year as the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. Members of the organization purportedly visited Assange in the embassy after the leak, apparently substantiating suspicions that Assange was still in charge of the organization.

Furthermore, Moreno declared his asylum “unsustainable and no longer viable” because Assange had repeatedly violated “clear cut provisions of the conventions of on diplomatic asylum.”

Following reports last week that the termination of Assange’s asylum was imminent, a UN envoy on torture warned Ecuador that revoking Assange’s protection would be a violation, since he could face “torture” and mistreatment should he be extradited to the US. Assange’s relationship with his host had become increasingly strained over the past year. Last year, Ecuador briefly revoked some of Assange’s “privileges”, including access to the Internet, over his ‘poor hygiene habits’, the #INAPapers about offshore money laundering, implicating the Ecuadorian president in a corruption scandal.

Edward Snowden reminded journalists of the UN’s finding in a tweet following Assange’s arrest.

The expulsion comes just a day after Wikileaks held a press conference accusing Ecuador of carrying out an “extensive spying operation” on Assange and handing intel over to the British and American authorities.

During the press conference, Fidel Narvaez, the former Consul of Ecuador to London, warned that “the Ecuadorian embassy is not protecting Assange any more…It is doing everything possible to end the asylum.”

RT published video of a bearded, disheveled-looking Assange shouting at police as he was dragged out of the embassy and loaded into a van.

According to Wikileaks, Assange is saying “the UK must resist this attempt by the Trump administration…” though his words are hard to make out. Footage of Assange’s arrest shows him holding a peculiar magazine that some suggested might have been an attempt to send his supporters a message.

Whatever Assange’s intentions might have been, others pointed out that the Wikileaks founder and former hacker was looking seriously vitamin D deficient…his time inside the embassy, where he was largely cut off from sunlight, have clearly taken a toll on him, as this photo from 2012, taken shortly after he arrived, clearly shows.

Assange

Journalist Cassandra Fairbanks, who had been in London to protest revocation of the asylum, tweeted what appears to be a first-hand account of the arrest.

She also pointed out that Moreno will visit Washington DC in five days.

As mainstream journalists scoffed at claims that UK ‘secret police’ had planned the operation to arrest Assange, Fairbanks reupped a video she filmed days ago where she identified a man she believed to be an undercover officer keeping tabs on the #ProtectAssange demonstration that was happening outside the embassy…he was also one of the men filmed arresting Assange.

Scotland Yard has confirmed that Assange is in custody.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid thanked Ecuador for its cooperation, suggesting that pressure from the British government was also a factor in Ecuador’s decision to revoke asylum.

While Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt thanked Ecuador and said Assange was “no hero” and that “no one is above the law.”

Foreign office minister Alan Duncan has issued a statement, calling the arrest “absolutely right” and adding that the UK courts will “deicde what happens next.”

“It is absolutely right that Assange will face justice in the proper way in the UK. It is for the courts to decide what happens next. We are very grateful to the government of Ecuador under President Moreno for the action they have taken.”

“Today’s events follow extensive dialogue between our two countries. I look forward to a strong bilateral relationship between the UK and Ecuador in the years ahead.”

A spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry denounced the arrest as ‘the hand of democracy squeezing the throat of freedom’.

With Assange facing a complicated, Continent-spanning legal fight, Wikileaks is soliciting donations for its ‘defense fund’ on Twitter.

They also accused the CIA of orchestrating his arrest.

Assange’s arrest marks the end of an era, and the ignominious close of a nearly decade-long struggle. Much has yet to be determined, including this.

Amid the chaos…a new hashtag has been born #FreeAssange.


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