How Julian Assange was Arrested – The Justice Department announced Thursday that it is charging Julian Assange, setting the stage for a historic legal showdown with the controversial founder of WikiLeaks.
The unsealing of an indictment dated more than a year ago followed a whirlwind reversal of fortune for Assange, who was ejected from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he confined himself for years, and then hauled into custody by officers of the Metropolitan Police.
British authorities have received a request to extradite Assange, they said. He is expected to appear at a hearing on June 12.
Justice Department investigators have described the key role that they say Assange and WikiLeaks played in the Russian attack on the 2016 election, but the charges announced on Thursday allude to an earlier chapter in his long-running drama.
The indictment unsealed on Thursday alleged:
in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to … a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications.
Manning was tried and convicted for the role she played in releasing U.S. government secrets to WikiLeaks; she served more than six years in prison before her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama.
More recently, Manning was ordered into custody again after a judge found her in contempt of court. Manning reportedly refused to give evidence to a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia in a case also connected to Assange.
Continue Reading; How Julian Assange was Arrested
It wasn’t clear whether the revelations about the existence of that grand jury proceeding could mean there is another indictment in store for Assange. The one unsealed against him on Thursday was dated March 6, 2018.
There have been suggestions in the past that a case was in the works. The Justice Department said it did not plan to release any additional information about Assange on Thursday.
Assange had been holed up at the embassy in London since 2012, after Ecuador granted him asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden in connection with sexual misconduct allegations.
One of the Swedish cases against Assange expired, but another may still pose a legal threat to him.
Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer representing the unnamed woman who accused Assange of rape, told NPR by email that she and her client would do everything they can to get the Swedish police to reopen the investigation.
That case — and fear by Assange that Stockholm might extradite him to the United States if he went to Sweden to address it — prompted him to confine himself in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
British authorities respected the international customs associated with the privileges each nation affords to another’s diplomatic facilities and did not venture inside to arrest him.
That changed on Thursday when Ecuador’s ambassador said that Quito had revoked its asylum for Assange and the Metropolitan Police officers could come in to serve their warrant. When they came back out, TV pictures appeared to show them carrying a bearded Assange to a police vehicle.
Protest, support, criticism, controversy
Last week, people gathered outside the embassy after WikiLeaks announced that Assange might be “expelled” from the building within “hours to days.”
On the day of Assange’s arrest, WikiLeaks pleaded for his protection, tweeting that “Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison him.”
Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno described the government’s decision to withdraw his asylum, describing his “aggressive behavior.”
Moreno accused Assange of installing prohibited electronic and distortion equipment, blocking security cameras, mistreating guards, accessing embassy files and threatening the Ecuadorian government.
He also said Assange had intervened in international affairs by working with WikiLeaks to publish leaked Vatican documents.
In Moscow, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, expressed hopes that “all his rights will be respected.”
Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, gave Assange data it stole in cyberattacks in 2016 so that he could release it as part of Russia’s interference in the presidential election, prosecutors say.
Assange also once hosted a talk show on Russia’s state-backed media network RT.
The war logs and the State cables
WikiLeaks first gained notoriety in 2010 when it began to release troves of U.S. government secrets about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Washington’s conduct of diplomacy around the world.
The files also revealed the identities of people who had worked with Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, leading officials to warn their lives may have been put in danger.
Read More here NPR