Sweden Announce That They Are Dropping Rape Charges Against Julian Assange

Julian Assange leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Jack Taylor / Getty Images

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was taken into custody by London’s Metropolitan Police on Thursday at the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he’s been living for almost seven years.

The arrest took place inside the embassy after Ecuador withdrew asylum, said the police in a press release. He will be presented at Westminster Magistrate’s Court at the earliest available opportunity. UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted to confirm Assange’s arrest. “No one is above the law,” he said.

The only footage of Assange’s arrest appears to have been captured by Russian government-funded news outlet RT.

“Ecuador has illegally terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law,” said WikiLeaks on Twitter. “He was arrested by the British police inside the Ecuadorian embassy minutes ago.”

The arrest comes only days after UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer warned that expelling Assange from the embassy could leave him vulnerable and “expose him to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights.”

Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault charges. The charges have since been dropped, but Assange was still wanted in the UK for skipping bail in 2012. He remained in the embassy due to concerns that if he left the US may also seek to extradite him on espionage charges.

In a statement on Twitter, Assange’s lawyer Jen Robinson said she’d had it confirmed to her that his arrest was “not just for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a US extradition request.”

The first warning that Assange would be evicted from the embassy came in the form of a thread of tweets from the official WikiLeaks account a week prior. It claimed to have garnered details of Assange’s imminent release from a high-level source within the Ecuadorian state.

Soon after the tweets were sent, activists supporting Assange turned out with banners and tents in support of his freedom. Following the protesters came the police, who many assumed were there to arrest Assange as he left the embassy.

In a video statement posted to Twitter on Thursday, President of Ecuador Lenín Moreno said the country was withdrawing asylum due to Assange’s “discourteous and aggressive behavior.”

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