Julian Assange arrested in London

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Nick Thompson, Brian Ries and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 4:00 p.m. ET, April 11, 2019
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8:38 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Sweden could re-open sex assault probe into Assange

Sweden’s Prosecution Authority may re-open its sexual assault probe into Julian Assange, prosecutor Ingrid Isgren said in a statement Thursday.

The statute of limitations for the alleged crimes does not expire until August 2020, she said.

Isgren said Swedish officials "are following the developments."

Sweden dropped the case in May 2017. Assange has denied all the allegations.

8:24 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Why the US wants Assange

Julian Assange has always feared extradition to the United States in connection to his work with WikiLeaks. That concern has been a key reason he remained holed up in the relative safety of Ecuador’s central London embassy.

The nearly-decade long battle between the US Justice Department and Assange and WikiLeaks dates back to at least 2010, when the site posted thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.

Then in 2013, US investigators also found what they believe was proof that WikiLeaks played an active role in helping Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, disclose a massive cache of classified documents.

More recently, WikiLeaks had been a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of any links between President Donald Trump's associates and Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. WikiLeaks posted thousands of emails stolen from Democrats by Russian agents during the election.

Embarrassingly, a bungled US court filing in November revealed the US' efforts to criminally charge Assange.

On Thursday, one of Assange's lawyers confirmed the WikiLeaks founder had been arrested on behalf of the US.

8:19 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

BREAKING: Assange arrested "on behalf of United States"

UK police confirmed Thursday that Assange has been arrested "on behalf of the United States authorities" who are seeking his extradition.

He was initially arrested this morning for skipping out on a UK arrest warrant issued in 2012; once he arrived at the police station this morning, he was then "further" arrested under an extradition request by the US.

Here's the full police statement:

Julian Assange, 47, has today, Thursday 11 April, been further arrested on behalf of the United States authorities, at 10:53hrs after his arrival at a central London police station. This is an extradition warrant under Section 73 of the Extradition Act. He will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates' Court as soon as possible.
8:40 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Lawyer for woman who accused Assange of assault tweets on his arrest

From Gianluca Mezzofiore in London

Elisabeth Massi Fritz, a lawyer for a Swedish woman who accused Julian Assange of sex crimes, tweeted Thursday that she and her client were shocked by his arrest, but said they had been hoping for it since 2012.

“My client and I have just recieved (sic) the news that Assange has been arrested in London. It did understandably come as a shock to my client that what we have been waiting and hoping for since 2012 has now finally happened.”

Assange first sought asylum in connection with Swedish prosecutors’ attempt to question him about allegations from two women against him.

8:39 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

How Assange ended up at the embassy in the first place

Assangee leaves the UK Supreme Court in February 2012. In May of that year, the court denied his appeal against extradition to Sweden.
Assangee leaves the UK Supreme Court in February 2012. In May of that year, the court denied his appeal against extradition to Sweden.

It's been seven years, so let's remind ourselves how Assange got himself in this predicament.

Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London on June 19, 2012, days after the UK’s Supreme Court upheld a decision to extradite him to Sweden for questioning over claims of sexual assault.

The Australian national claimed asylum at the embassy because he believed Sweden would have sent him onward to the US, where he could theoretically face the death penalty if convicted of publishing government secrets through WikiLeaks. Assange has never been charged by Swedish authorities and has repeatedly denied the assault allegations.

Assange had handed himself over to London authorities in 2010. That same year, he was released on bail and placed under house arrest. His legal battle against extradition ended with the May 2012 decision.

Last year, Swedish prosecutors dropped their case against the WikiLeaks founder but he chose to remain holed up in the embassy because he was still wanted for breaching his bail terms and failing to surrender to the UK court in June 2012.

8:40 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Pamela Anderson: Assange "looks very bad"

From Dominique Robertson in Washington

The actress Pamela Anderson, who visited Assange several times in the Ecuadorian embassy during his time there, said she was “in shock” over his arrest and ripped into the UK for their morning raid on the embassy.

“I am in shock.. I couldn’t hear clearly what he said? He looks very bad. How could you Equador (sic) ? (Because he exposed you). How could you UK. ?" Anderson tweeted Thursday, before accusing Britain of arresting Assange to distract from the country's never-ending Brexit debacle.

7:19 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Snowden: This is a dark moment for press freedom

From CNN's James Griffiths

Debate is emerging on social media over the press freedom implications of Assange's forced removal from the Ecuadorian embassy on Thursday morning.

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked classified documents on US surveillance programs around the world in 2013, reacted to news of Assange's arrested quickly on Thursday.

In a second, tweet Snowden also highlighted a UN panel's judgment that Assange had been "arbitrarily detained."

7:12 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Source: Unclear if Assange will make it to court today

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh

Assange will now be booked at a central London police station and might need a medical assessment owing to his appearance, a source with knowledge of police procedures told CNN.

The source said Assange would have to make it to court by 2 p.m. for the afternoon sitting, so it’ll be tight for him to appear today, but possible.

6:59 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Ecuador president explains Assange decision

From CNN’s Max Ramsay in London

File photograph of Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno on March 22.
File photograph of Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno on March 22. Claudio Reyes/AFP/Getty Images

Shortly after the arrest, Lenin Moreno, the President of Ecuador, released a video statement explaining his government’s decision to withdraw the Australian activist’s asylum.

"Today I announce that the discourteous and aggressive behavior of Mr. Julian Assange; the hostile and threatening declarations of his allied organization against Ecuador, and especially the transgression of international treaties, have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable.”

He said Assange had provoked the decision and that Ecuador's patience had "reached its limit," adding that Assange had repeatedly broken the embassy's house rules by installing electronic and distortion equipment and blocking security cameras.

Moreno also confirmed that he had sought legal guidance that Ecuador's position was lawful and "in line with our strong commitment to human rights."