WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, arrested in London and convicted by British courts for violating the terms of his bail, intends to “challenge and fight” Washington's extradition request to try him and see him as threat to his security.
Mr. Assange had fled to the embassy in 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he was accused of rape, a case since filed. It was forcibly extracted Thursday morning by police dressed in civilian clothes who carried him to a police van. Appearing aged and weakened, long white hair and shaggy beard, according to a video made by the agency Ruptly TV, he exclaimed: “The United Kingdom must resist”, according to the author of the video.
The 47-year-old Australian was arrested on a US extradition request for “hacking”, which will be heard at a hearing on May 2, and a warrant issued in June 2012 by the court. British for failure to appear in court, an offense punishable by one year in prison.
He will “challenge and fight” the request for extradition, told reporters after his appearance his lawyer Jennifer Robinson, for whom his arrest “creates a dangerous precedent for the media and journalists” in the world.
Another of his lawyers, Spaniard Baltasar Garzon, said his client is the subject of “political persecution” by the United States.
The Australian is indicted in the United States of criminal conspiracy to commit a “hacking”, punishable by up to five years in prison, revealed Thursday the US Department of Justice.
He is accused of helping former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning obtain a password to access thousands of classified secret-defense documents.
On Thursday, the US president reacted cautiously. “I do not know anything about WikiLeaks, it's not my business,” Donald Trump told reporters, referring the questions to his Justice Department.
Assange appeared in the middle of the day in a courtroom in Westminster, London, dressed in dark clothing, hinting, thumbs up, at the press, before plunging into a book. noted an AFP journalist.
Judge Michael Snow described him as “narcissist incapable of seeing beyond his own interests” and found him guilty of violating the conditions of his provisional release. His sentence will be returned at an unspecified later date.
His arrest provoked a stir in his supporters who described Ecuador's decision and the conditions of the arrest as “illegal”.
On Twitter, WikiLeaks blamed the South American country for “illegally ending the political asylum granted to Julian Assange, in violation of international law,” and for “inviting” British police into the compound of the embassy.
Moscow accused London of “strangling freedom,” while Bolivian President Evo Morales, a figure on the radical Latin-American left, said it was a “violation of freedom of expression.”
For the former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, this arrest is “a personal revenge of President Lenin Moreno, because WikiLeaks a few days ago published a case of very serious corruption.”
This is, told AFP the former head of state, the revelation by the WikiLeaks site of the existence of “a secret account in Panama, the Balboa Bank”, on behalf of the Moreno family.
Ecuador on Thursday arrested a person “close” to Julian Assange accused of “collaborating in attempts to destabilize the government” of President Lenin Moreno, said Interior Minister Maria Paulo Romo.
The minister did not reveal the name of the person arrested, but according to the Teleamazonas channel, it is a Swedish citizen, Ola Bini, computer expert, specialist in security issues and cryptography.
Lenin Moreno defended him on Twitter the withdrawal of the asylum granted to Julian Assange, a decision presented as “sovereign” and taken “after his repeated violations of international conventions and protocols of daily life”. Ecuadorian nationality, which had been granted to her in 2017, was also withdrawn.
“He did not respect any of his obligations and this forced Ecuador to put into effect last October a special protocol on cohabitation in an embassy (…), he continued to violate this protocol”, said to AFP the ambassador of Ecuador in London, Jaime Marchan.
“Not a hero”
Critics were also deemed “totally unfounded” by Britain's Secretary of State for Europe and the Americas, Alan Duncan, who assured that “his rights have not been violated” and that everything has been done “in respect for international law “.
But the UN rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnès Callamard, told AFP that by expelling him from the embassy, Ecuador was running Mr. Assange “a real risk of serious violations of his rights.” fundamental rights”.
The British government has on its side to present Assange litigant like the others. “Nobody is above the law,” Prime Minister Theresa May told the parliament, while diplomat Jeremy Hunt said he was “not a hero.”
In Sweden, the accuser of Mr. Assange plans to request the reopening of the investigation, said Thursday his lawyer to AFP. “We will do everything so that the prosecutors reopen the Swedish investigation and that Assange is handed over to Sweden and brought to justice for rape,” said Elisabeth Massi Fritz.