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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10:36 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Ecuador says Assange put feces on embassy walls

From CNN's Ana Melgar and Radina Gigova in Atlanta

Ecuador’s Interior Minister María Paula Romo says Julian Assange's asylum was revoked because there was sufficient evidence that he was meddling in Ecuador's internal affairs in an effort to destabilize the government.

Romo also reiterated President Lenin Moreno's remarks that Assange was consistently violating embassy residency rules, and specifically called out how he would put feces on the walls.

"For several years now, one of the key members of the WikiLeaks organization and a person close to Assange has lived in Ecuador," Romo said at a press conference Thursday. 

This member "works closely and has traveled with Ricardo Patiño to Peru, Spain and Russia."

Patiño was chancellor during the government of former president of Correa, who was in power when Assange was granted asylum.

CNN has reached out to Chancellor Patiño. Previously Patiño defended the innocence of Assange saying his fight was a "fight for freedom of expression."

Two Russian hackers are also suspected of meddling in the attempt to destabilize the government and their information will be delivered to the Office of the Attorney General of Ecuador, Romi said.

"We are not going to allow Ecuador to become a hacking center and we cannot allow illegal activities to take place in the country in order to harm citizens or other governments," Rome said. The authorities did not clarify whether these people have been detained or only identified.

The interior minister said that "in the next few hours" the government of Ecuador will provide additional evidence that justifies the decision to end Assange’s asylum.

During former President Correa's government and while Patiño was chancellor, "they tolerated things like Assange putting feces on the embassy walls and other behaviors far from the minimum respect that a guest can have," said Romo.

10:29 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Here's the timeline of Assange's arrest today

From CNN's Muhammad Darwish at Westminster Magistrates Court, London

Julian Assange gives a thumbs up to onlookers from inside a police van in London on Thursday.
Julian Assange gives a thumbs up to onlookers from inside a police van in London on Thursday.

More details around Julian Assange's dramatic ejection from the Ecuadorian embassy are emerging.

A lawyer for the US government revealed arrest officers went to the embassy at 9.15 a.m. local time (4.15 a.m. ET), where ambassadors met them. The ambassador then revoked Assange's asylum and met with him at 10 a.m. (5 a.m. ET). The lawyer said officers tried to introduce themselves, but Assange barged past them in an attempt to return to a private room.

He was eventually arrested at 10.15 a.m. (5.15 a.m. ET) but resisted and had to restrained, leading to the dramatic scenes of British police hauling him by force out of the building.

After being lifted into the waiting police van, he was taken directly to a police station where he was formally arrested.

10:30 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

How self-imposed exile changed Assange

Analysis from CNN's Atika Shubert

Watching the video of his arrest earlier, I was shocked to see how much Assange has aged. His tall frame bent over by the police dragging him out.  He looked desperate and cornered. He was not the confident, daring -- and often calculating -- transparency activist I once knew.

The last time I saw Assange was just after he claimed asylum in the embassy, nearly seven years ago. He was in good health then and fairly optimistic that he could still run WikiLeaks from the embassy. 

I don’t think Assange had any idea he would be in there for so long. He didn’t even have his own window to look out on the world.  He needed a sun lamp to simulate natural light. For the first few weeks, there wasn’t even a proper shower for him. That had to be installed later.   

He told me it was like living on a space ship. His friends worried about his health and bought him an exercise machine. Celebrity guests would sometimes visit and that would make a big splash in the news. But it was a lonely existence, and friends brought him a kitten to keep him company.  

And then there was the 24-hour police surveillance outside the embassy. I cannot fathom the toll it must have had on his physical and mental health. 

Assange had always maintained that he was not afraid of facing allegations of sexual assault in Sweden, which is what the original arrest warrant was for. He was more concerned that it was a ploy -- he called it once a "honey trap" -- to get him extradited to the US on charges of espionage. 

Remember that -- before the DNC leaks, before allegations of Russia collusion, before Trump’s declarations of "I love WikiLeaks!" -- Assange and WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of classified documents leaked to him by former Army private and whistleblower, Chelsea Manning. 

That was unprecedented. It made WikiLeaks what it is today. And Assange was convinced that the US government was coming after him, that a grand jury had issued a sealed indictment charging him with criminal acts. 

Today, it seems, Assange was right. 

10:17 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

An Interpol "red notice" for Assange was issued at least 8 years ago, diplomatic source says

From CNN's Nina dos Santos in London

An Interpol "red notice" issued by the US Department of Homeland Security in the name of Julian Assange has been in circulation since at least March 2011, according to a diplomatic source with first-hand knowledge of the document.

The source said the red notice did not mention any charges in particular at the time.

What is a red notice? It is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action, according to Interpol. It is not an arrest warrant.

10:09 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Judge finds Assange guilty of breaking bail conditions, orders him to appear in court on May 2

From CNN's Muhammad Darwish at Westminster Magistrates Court, London

Back inside the courtroom, one of Assange's lawyers argued that he did not surrender for bail back in 2012 because he would never have received a fair trial and was thus forced to seek asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy.

The judge appeared to dispute this and called the Australian WikiLeaks founder a “narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest.”

The judge found Assange guilty of breaking his bail conditions and ordered him to appear on May 2 for an extradition hearing. Until then, he said Assange would remain in custody.

The hearing has now ended.

10:13 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Assange was clutching a Gore Vidal book as he was dragged from Ecuador's embassy

When 47-year-old WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange finally left the Ecuadorian embassy after seven years, the focus was largely on his appearance and what he was screaming as he was bundled into a police van.

But eagle-eyed observers noticed that as he was hauled away, he was clutching a book titled "Gore Vidal: History of the National Security State." According to the Amazon listing, it's a collection of interviews with the American literary legend, who chronicled major cultural shifts in the United States.

The book, according to Amazon, details "the historical events that led to the establishment of the massive military-industrial-security complex and the political culture that gave us the 'Imperial Presidency.'”

When Assange sat down in a London court in the past hour or so, he still had the book with him, and made a show to the media of reading from it.

9:28 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Assange in court, gives thumbs up to press

From CNN's Muhammad Darwish at Westminster Magistrates Court, London

Assange has appeared inside the courtroom at London's Westminster Magistrates Court. Wearing a dark suit with his hair tied back and crisp white beard, he gave a thumbs up to the press.

He appeared calm and confident as the judge asked him where his lawyers were.

10:02 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

US confirms charges against Assange

The US Department of Justice has confirmed Julian Assange has been indicted on conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to commit computer intrusion in 2010.

“The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the US Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password” on classified DoD [US Department of Defense] computer systems, according to a Justice Department press release. 

The indictment -- unsealed Thursday -- was signed last year on March 6.

Earlier Manning's lawyer expressed hope that Assange's arrest on Thursday in London could open the door to Manning's release from incarceration.

Moira Meltzer-Cohen, an attorney for Chelsea Manning, said: “Were he to be extradited [to the US] we hope it would signal her release but that is not, unfortunately, a foregone conclusion.”

Manning served about seven years in prison for her disclosure of US military and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks in 2010, before being released in May 2017.

But Manning was jailed again in early March of this year, when a judge held her in contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury about those disclosures.

Her testimony appeared to be part of an effort by federal prosecutors investigating Assange.

This post has been updated to correct the date the indictment was signed.

8:58 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Theresa May on Assange: "No one is above the law"

May addresses the House on Thursday.
May addresses the House on Thursday. House of Commons/parliament.tv

While we wait for proceedings to get underway at Westminster Magistrates Court, over at the UK House of Commons, British Prime Minister Theresa May has opened her appearance by welcoming the arrest of Julian Assange.

She said that he was “arrested for breach of bail after nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy. He has also been arrested in relation to an extradition request from the US.”

“I would like to thank the Metropolitan Police for carrying out their duties with great professionalism and to welcome the cooperation of the Ecuadorian government in bringing this matter to a resolution. Mr Speaker this goes to show in the UK, no one is above the law,” the Prime Minister said.