Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in the Ecuador embassy after almost seven years of asylum. The US Justice has filed an extradition request for Assange, the British police said Thursday.
The US accuses Wikileaks founder Julian Assange of conspiring with whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Assange is accused of helping Manning crack a password on a government computer network.
A statement released Thursday by the Department of Justice sent an extradition request to Britain which will be handled by the Office of International Affairs. Assange faces up to five years of imprisonment in the United States. His lawyer has already announced that they intend to fight against extradition.
UN Human right experts believe if extradition is carried out on Assange, it will be a “serious human rights violation”.
The UK has confirmed that Assange will not be extradited to the US if he faces the death penalty there. The law applies “under all circumstances,” including Assange, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Alan Duncan told Sky News on Thursday. A British court sentenced the Australian on Thursday afternoon because he allegedly violated his bail order.
The danger of extradition to the US is precisely what prompted Assange to flee to the embassy and stay there for so long. Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno also said that the British government had written pledges not to extradite Assange to a country where he was threatened with torture or the death penalty.
Before the arrest on Thursday, the government of Ecuador’s withdrew diplomatic asylum on the grounds that he had violated the conditions for it. British police said the ambassador invited them to the embassy.
British Prime Minister Theresa May commented on Assange’s arrest that “No one is above the law in the UK,” May said Thursday in London’s parliament, thanking Ecuador for their cooperation and the police for their “great professionalism”.
Most recently, however, WikiLeaks was the focus of US investigation because the whistleblower website published stolen e-mails from the Democratic Party in the 2016 presidential campaign. US authorities believe the e-mails were downloaded by Russian hackers and leaked to Wikileaks. FBI special investigator Robert Mueller has also documented this aspect in his final report on presumed Russian interference in the presidential election won by Donald Trump.