British police say they have arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where the whistleblower has been living since 2012.
“Julian Assange, 47, has today, Thursday 11 April, been arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) at the Embassy of Ecuador,” police said.
Police said they arrested Assange after being “invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorean government’s withdrawal of asylum.”
Footage by Ruptly showed several men carrying Assange, who was sporting a large white beard, down the embassy steps and into a police van.
“I can confirm that Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK,” British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Twitter.
“No one is above the law,” he wrote, thanking Ecuador for its “cooperation” in the case.
WikiLeaks has condemned the move, accusing Ecuador of breaching international law by withdrawing Assange’s asylum.
“Ecuador has illegally terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law,” the whistleblowing website said on Twitter.
WikiLeaks had warned in the past days that Assange was likely to be expelled from the embassy soon.
Javid was due to make a statement to parliament later in the day on the arrest of Assange, the opposition Labour Party said on Twitter.
Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London in 2012 after facing a warrant for arrest following allegations of sexual assault and rape from the Swedish government. He has denied the allegations, and the investigation was closed last year.
However, the Australian computer programmer had stayed in the embassy out of concern that he would be extradited to the US to be prosecuted for publishing classified documents that were leaked by American whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, said in July that he was planning to withdraw asylum protection for Assange and evict him from its UK embassy.
He said Thursday that London guaranteed Assange would not be extradited to a country that has the death penalty.
“In line with our strong commitment to human rights and international law, I requested Great Britain to guarantee that Mr Assange would not be extradited to a country where he could face torture or the death penalty,” Moreno said in a video posted on Twitter.
“The British government has confirmed it in writing, in accordance with its own rules.” – Press TV.