LONDON - London Metropolitan police arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday on a charge of breach of bail conditions and an extradition request from the United States.
In an indictment unsealed Thursday by the Justice Department, officials said Assange was suspected of conspiring with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer.
The federal charge stems from March 2010, when authorities say Assange “agreed to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on United State Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network, a United States government network used for classified documents and communications.”
Here are the latest updates:
Update 10 p.m. EDT April 11: A senior Ecuadorian official says a Swedish software developer living in Quito and who is allegedly close to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested as authorities attempt to dismantle a blackmail ring that in recent days had threatened to retaliate against President Lenin Moreno.
The official said Ola Bini was arrested Thursday at Quito’s airport as he was preparing to board a flight for Japan.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity and didn’t provide any additional details about Bini.
Update 12:55 p.m. EDT April 11: Despite his praise of WikiLeaks and Assange during the run up to the 2016 presidential election, President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday that he knows “nothing about WikiLeaks.”
“It’s not my thing,” Trump said.
He said any decision about prosecuting Assange would fall to U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
Update 11:15 a.m. EDT April 11: Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s attorney, said she and her client will fight extradition to the United States.
“This sets a dangerous precedent for all media organizations in Europe and around the world,” Robinson said.
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson criticized the decision to arrest Assange for “publishing work nine years ago.”
“This is journalism,” he told reporters gathered outside the courthouse in London on Thursday. “It’s called conspiracy -- it’s conspiracy to commit journalism.”
Update 10 a.m. EDT April 11: A judge in the United Kingdom found Assange guilty Thursday morning of a charge of failing to surrender in connection to a 2012 case, according to BBC News.
Assange had entered an innocent plea to a charge that he failed to surrender to custody under an order for his extradition to Sweden, where he was facing allegations of sexual assault. The sexual assault charges have since been dropped, but a charge of skipping bail remained in place.
Assange is expected to appear next in court by video link on May 2 to face extradition to the U.S.
Julian Assange will next appear on the 2nd of May by video link at this court on the extradition matter. He will next appear on the bail offence at Southwark Crown Court on a date to be announced. Hearing over.— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) April 11, 2019
Update 9:35 a.m. EDT April 11: In a statement released Thursday, an attorney for Assange called his client’s arrest “an unprecedented effort by the United States seeking to extradite a foreign journalist to face criminal charges of publishing truthful information,”
“It is bitterly disappointing that a country would allow someone to whom it has extended citizenship and asylum to be arrested in its embassy,” Assange attorney Barry Pollack said.
US Attorney for Assange, Barry Pollack statement on Assange arrest on behalf of the US in relation to 2010 publications: pic.twitter.com/a3hC6aLg7A— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson and Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s U.K. lawyer, are expected to make a statement later Thursday.
Announce: WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson and UK lawyer for Assange Jennifer Robinson will be making a statement outside Westminster Magistrate's Court after Assange's hearing has concluded.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
Update 9:10 a.m. EDT April 11: In an indictment released Thursday by the Justice Department, officials said Assange was accused of conspiring with Chelsea Manning in the 2010 WikiLeaks dump.
Authorities said Thursday morning in a press release that Assange was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer.
“The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications,” officials said. “Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks.”
Update 8:55 a.m. EDT April 11: The Justice Department is expected to soon announce the charges Assange is facing after police in London arrested him Thursday on a charge of breach of bail conditions and an extradition request from the U.S.
British Prime Minister Theresa May addressed Assange’s arrest while speaking to Parliament on Thursday, thanking police for their professionalism.
“This goes to show that in the United Kingdom no one is above the law,” she said.
Theresa May says she welcomed the news that the U.K. police have arrested Julian Assange pic.twitter.com/KrC1n9a55f— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) April 11, 2019
Update 8:40 a.m. EDT April 11: Assange gave photographers a thumbs up from inside a police vehicle after he was taken into custody Thursday in London.
A spokesperson for the United Kingdom's Home Office confirmed to The Guardian that Assange "is accused in the United State of America (of) computer-related offences." Officials did not immediately elaborate on the charges Assange faces.
Update 7:56 a.m. EDT April 11: Metropolitan police have confirmed that Assange “has been further arrested in relation to an extradition warrant on behalf of the United States authorities.”
UPDATE: Julian Assange has been further arrested in relation to an extradition warrant on behalf of the United States authorities. He remains in custody at a central London police station. https://t.co/rK3mtlsPBE pic.twitter.com/kipiWbflOh— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) April 11, 2019
Update 7:42 a.m. EDT April 11: According to USA Today, Assange’s attorney, Jen Robinson, said her client was “arrested not just for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a US extradition request.”
Original report: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London, Metropolitan police announced Thursday.
Officers arrested the 47-year-old Australia native at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for “failing to surrender to the court” in connection with a 2012 warrant, authorities said in a press release. Police escorted him out of the embassy, where he had been staying for nearly seven years, shortly after Ecuador withdrew his asylum Thursday, authorities said.
Ecuador President Lenin Moreno said the country revoked Assange’s asylum because he “repeatedly violated international conventions and protocols of co-existence.”
Ecuador decidió soberanamente retirar el asilo diplomático a Julian Assange por violar reiteradamente convenciones internacionales y protocolo de convivencia. #EcuadorSoberano pic.twitter.com/V02pvvtPY0— Lenín Moreno (@Lenin) April 11, 2019
When Assange originally sought asylum, he had been facing extradition to Sweden in connection with a sexual assault case, CNN reported. Although those charges were eventually dropped, he stayed in the embassy “because he feared arrest and extradition to the United States for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks,” The Associated Press reported.
After news of Assange’s arrest broke, WikiLeaks claimed in a tweet that Ecuador “has illigally (sic) terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law.”
URGENT: Ecuador has illigally terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law. He was arrested by the British police inside the Ecuadorian embassy minutes ago.https://t.co/6Ukjh2rMKD— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
Metropolitan police said Assange is now at a police station in central London and will be “presented before Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as is possible.”