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
21 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
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.
8:53 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

HAPPENING NOW: Julian Assange arrives at the Westminster Magistrates Court

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

Julian Assange has arrived at Westminster Magistrates Court, a CNN producer at the court has confirmed. He is now inside the building but the courtroom is yet to open.

His lawyers will be Liam Walker (for the breach of bail charges) and Ben Cooper (for the US extradition request), the law firm Doughty Street Chambers tweeted. Jennifer Robinson will also appear with him, they said.

Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court on Thursday in London, England. 
Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court on Thursday in London, England. 

8:49 a.m. ET, April 11, 2019

Assange "was holding Ecuador hostage," UK foreign secretary says

From CNN’s Lindsay Isaac in London

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Thursday that Julian Assange is “not above the law” and that he is “no hero.”

“What we’ve shown today is that no one is above the law. Julian Assange is no hero. He has hidden from the truth for years and years and it is right that his future should be decided in the British judicial system,” Hunt said.

He praised Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno’s “very courageous decision … to resolve this situation that has been going on for nearly seven years.”

And he challenged Assange’s long-standing claim that he was being held in the embassy against his will, saying: “I mean it’s not so much Julian Assange being held hostage in the Ecuadorian Embassy, it’s actually Julian Assange holding the Ecuadorian Embassy hostage in a situation that was absolutely intolerable for them.”

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.