WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested after 7 years of hiding out; indicted in US

Assange was arrested Thursday morning after his asylum status was withdrawn.

"During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange," prosecutors said in a press release."The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that “after this upload, that’s all I really have got left.” To which Assange replied, “curious eyes never run dry in my experience,” the release said.

Prosecutors wrote that Assange was arrested pursuant to a U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty, but when or even if that would happen was unclear.

During his initial court appearance on Thursday, Assange offered no evidence and was found guilty of breaching his bail. The judge described Assange as “a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests.”

He now faces up to 12 months in jail and will be sentenced at a later date. Until then, Assange will remain in custody.

The warrant for his "failure to appear” dates back to a now-closed rape inquiry in Sweden that had been active for the past seven years. The rape investigation was dropped by Swedish prosecutors in 2017 as they could not gain access to Assange while he was inside the Ecuadorean Embassy, but Swedish prosecutors announced Thursday their intention to re-open the rape investigation against Assange.

WikiLeaks advocates and Assange’s legal team leapt to his defense on Thursday morning, decrying his arrest and prospective extradition to the U.S.

Carlos Poveda, Assange's lawyer in Ecuador, claimed the arrest contravened international conventions on human rights. Barry Pollack, Assange's U.S.-based attorney, described the news as "bitterly disappointing."

Addressing reporters after his initial appearance, Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson vowed that his legal team would "be contesting and fighting extradition" and argued that Assange's arrest and indictment "sets dangerous precedent for all media organizations and journalists."

In a tweet, WikiLeaks wrote that “Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison [Assange],” and Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who leaked details of a secret domestic data mining program, bemoaned the "weakness of the US charge against Assange."

The American actress Pamela Anderson, a confidante of Assange's in recent years, wrote on Twitter, "I am in shock ... how could you UK?"

Meanwhile, government officials in the U.K. and Ecuador applauded Assange’s arrest.

Sir Alan Duncan, the British government's Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, said in a statement that it was "absolutely right that Assange will face justice."

The U.K.'s Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, wrote in a tweet that "Julian Assange is no hero and no one is above the law.”

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno announced on Thursday that Assange's diplomatic asylum and immunity had been withdrawn for "repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocol.”

Assange, an Australian native, founded the website WikiLeaks in 2006 and drew attention over the next decade for releasing sensitive, and often classified, information.

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