Assange is wanted in the US over an investigation into WikiLeaks’ hacking and leaking of classified documents concerning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He is wanted in the UK for breaching his conditions of bail in 2012 — it was granted amid a case that would see him extradited to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault.
To avoid extradition, Assange took up asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he had been until today.
Swedish prosecutors eventually dropped the rape charge in 2017, however, the alleged victim indicated on Thursday a wish to reopen the case, following Assange’s arrest.
Why Was Assange’s Asylum Revoked?
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said the decision to remove Assange’s asylum was made over “repeated violations” to international conventions and “daily life protocols.”
In a sovereign decision Ecuador withdrew the asylum status to Julian Assange after his repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols. #EcuadorSoberano pic.twitter.com/pZsDsYNI0B
— Lenín Moreno (@Lenin) April 11, 2019
In a brief video statement, Moreno described Assange’s behaviour as “discourteous and aggressive,” claiming the 47-year-old had made “hostile and threatening declarations” against his country.
“The patience of Ecuador has reached its limit,” Moreno said.
The Ecuadorian leader specifically cited WikiLeaks’ release of a batch of Vatican documents earlier this year, before listing a number of activities at the embassy in London that he did not agree with.
Assange had installed electronic distortion equipment, blocked security cameras, accessed security files “without permission”, and had “confronted and mistreated” embassy staff, he alleged.
Stressing the importance of human rights, Moreno requested the UK do not extradite Assange to a country where he could face the death penalty, such as the US.
Speculation over Assange losing asylum has been circulating for some time after recent tensions between himself and the Ecuadorian government grew increasingly strained.
Just last week, Ecuador released a statement saying it had made “significant expenditures” to fund Assange’s seven-year occupancy at its embassy in London, but had been forced to “endure his rudeness”.
Support For Assange
Former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, who granted Assange asylum in 2012, described his successor as a “great traitor” who had just committed a “crime that humanity will never forget.”
El traidor más grande de la historia ecuatoriana y latinoamericana, Lenín Moreno, permitió que la policía británica entre a nuestra embajada en Londres para arrestar a Assange.
Moreno es un corrupto, pero lo que ha hecho es un crimen que la humanidad jamás olvidará. https://t.co/GwZ4OLreuo
— Rafael Correa (@MashiRafael) April 11, 2019
US whistleblower Edward Snowden said the arrest marked “a dark moment for press freedom.”
Australian-born Assange is “a publisher of — like it or not — award-winning journalism,” Snowden added.
WikiLeaks refuted claims that its founder had simply walked out of the embassy building.
The Ecuadoran ambassador had instead “invited” British police inside, the organisations said, where Assange was “immediately arrested.”
Julian Assange did not "walk out of the embassy". The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 11, 2019
Assange’s arrest came just a day after WikiLeaks held a press conference saying it had uncovered an “extensive spying operation” on its founder.
Individuals in Spain demanded a €3 million ransom for a “massive trove of documents” accumulated on Assange, which included video and audio recording inside the Ecuadorian embassy, and other documents.
Wikileaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said he believed the documents were going to be handed over to US authorities to aid in an extradition case, but he said he had no hard evidence to prove it.
This story originally appeared in Euronews. Image courtesy of Frank Augstein/AP.