Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who released reams of secret documents that embarrassed the United States government, was taken into police custody on Thursday after being evicted from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has lived for almost seven years.
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that Mr. Assange had been arrested by officers at the embassy on a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in 2012, for failing to surrender to the court.
The United States Justice Department has filed criminal charges against Mr. Assange, 47, related to the publication of classified documents, a fact that prosecutors accidentally made public in November. He also faces a charge in a British court of jumping bail.
Mr. Assange is also suspected of aiding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election by releasing material stolen from the computers of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. In July, the Justice Department charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking those computers, and the indictment contends that at least one of them was in contact with WikiLeaks.
Mr. Assange took refuge in the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questions about sexual assault allegations. He has insisted that the accusations against him are false, and has said that the Swedish authorities intend to extradite him to the United States.
Sweden has rescinded its arrest warrant for Mr. Assange, but prosecutors have stressed that the case was not closed and could resume.
Ecuador gave Mr. Assange asylum in 2012, but he has been an irritant in its relations with Britain, the United States and other countries. President Lenín Moreno, who took office in 2017, had looked for a face-saving way to get him out of the arrangement.
MENTION: New York Times