WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange is arrested after seven years in Ecuador's embassy in London.

11/04/2019View on timeline

Julian Paul Assange is an Australian journalist, computer programmer and the founder and director of WikiLeaks. Wikileaks, which he founded in 2006, is an international publishing organisation known for revealing war crimes, human rights abuses, and corruption. WikiLeaks came to international attention in 2010 when it published a series of leaks provided by Chelsea Manning. These leaks included the Collateral Murder video (April 2010), the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), and CableGate (November 2010). After the 2010 leaks, the United States government launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and asked allied nations for assistance.

In November 2010, Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange, after questioning him months earlier about allegations of sexual assault. Assange denied the allegations, and said that they were just a pretext for him to be extradited from Sweden to the United States because of his role in publishing secret American documents. Assange surrendered to UK police on 7 December 2010 but was released on bail within 10 days. Having been unsuccessful in his challenge to the extradition proceedings, he breached his £340,000 bail in June 2012 to seek asylum from Ecuador. In August 2012, Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador due to fears of political persecution and possible extradition to the United States. He remained in the Embassy of Ecuador in London for almost seven years. Swedish prosecutors later suspended their investigation and applied to revoke the European arrest warrant in May 2017.

During the 2016 U.S. Democratic Party presidential primaries, WikiLeaks hosted emails sent or received by candidate Hillary Clinton from her private email server when she was Secretary of State. The U.S. Intelligence Community, as well as a Special Counsel investigation, concluded that the Russian government carried out a hacking campaign as part of broader efforts of interference in the 2016 United States elections. In 2018, twelve Russian intelligence officers, mostly affiliated with the GRU, were indicted on criminal charges by Special Counsel Robert Mueller; the indictment charges the Russians with carrying out the computer hacking and working with WikiLeaks and other organisations to spread the stolen documents. Assange consistently denied any connection to or co-operation with Russia in relation to the leaks, and accused the Clinton campaign of stoking "a neo-McCarthy hysteria".

On 11 April 2019, Assange's asylum was withdrawn following a series of disputes with the Ecuadorian authorities. The police were invited into the embassy, and he was arrested. Later that day he was found guilty of breaching the Bail Act and on 1 May 2019 he was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison in the United Kingdom. As a result of the revocation of his asylum, and at the request of his alleged rape victim's lawyer, Swedish prosecutors reopened their investigation in May 2019. Assange is incarcerated in HM Prison Belmarsh.

Julian Assange

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Published in 20/05/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

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