JULIAN Assange is suffering from health problems including osteoporosis and bad teeth, it was reported.
The bearded Wikileaks founder faces a year in British jail after his dramatic arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy ended seven years in hiding.
He spent 2,487 days holed up in the embassy to avoid Swedish sex claims and US authorities, who want him over an alleged conspiracy with whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
During that time his health has deteriorated as a result of a lack of sunlight, a Wikileaks source told the Mirror.
“I don’t think people understand that it’s a very small space, the Ecuadorian embassy,” the source said.
“They’re not a country with a massive pile in Knightsbridge, it’s a few rooms.
“He’s got dental problems. He’s got osteoporosis because he’s had a lack of vitamin D. And he’s got other ailments.”
In court, the 47-year-old was blasted a “narcissist who can’t get beyond his own self interest” as he was found guilty this afternoon of skipping bail in 2012 – relating to his time at the embassy.
He now faces a battle against extradition to America where he was today charged in his absence with “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the US”.
District Judge Michael Snow described Assange’s claim he’s never had a fair hearing as “laughable” before ruling the US must produce an extradition case by June 12.
Earlier the US Department of Justice called for his return to the country and warned he could face up to five years in prison over the government leak allegations.
Swedish lawyers also wants to reopen the sex allegations which first sent Assange into hiding – a move which has cost the British taxpayer more than £10m.
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:
- Julian Assange found guilty of skipping bail in UK and could face a year in jail
- Earlier he was arrested after 2,487 days holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy – costing taxpayers more than £10m
- He went into hiding in August 2012 to avoid facing extradition to Sweden for sex assault and rape allegations
- Wanted in US for espionage and publication of sensitive government documents
- He fears he could face death penalty if extradited to US over WikiLeaks scandal
- Ecuadorian President said Assange’s release dependent on not facing extradition to country with death penalty
- Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan said “UK courts will decide” his future
- It’s been revealed Assange staged ‘dirty protests’ while in Ecuador’s embassy
Wearing a black suit with his scruffy hair tied back, Assange sat in the dock this afternoon reading Gore Vidal’s History of the National Security State – the book he clutched as he was bundled out of the embassy.
He waved to the public gallery at Westminster Magistrates’ Court before he was remanded into custody. He will now learn his fate at Southwark Crown Court on May 2.
The court heard cops had to call for back up earlier today as Assange tried to barge past them when they arrived to arrest him – forcing officers to lift him from the building.
He was handcuffed and dragged screaming “this is unlawful” from the embassy by British cops after Ecuador withdrew its asylum status.
As he was hauled to a waiting police van, he appeared to shout “the UK has no civility” and “the UK must resist”. Until today, Assange hadn’t left the embassy since August 2012.
He had feared stepping off Ecuador’s diplomatic soil would see him arrested and extradited to the US for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables.
Last night Assange was transferred to Wandsworth Prison in South West London, where he joined speedboat killer Jack Shepherd, another recaptured fugitive.
Assange faces up to 12 months in prison in the UK for the bail offence when he is sentenced, probably next month.
CASE AGAINST HIM IN THE US
THE criminal case against Julian Assange in the US was revealed last night.
The WikiLeaks hacker is wanted on conspiracy charges for committing “computer intrusion”.
And he is charged with conspiring with ex-intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning — jailed for 35 years before her sentence was commuted in 2017 — to crack a Department of Defence password.
Assange faces a maximum five years if convicted.
Details of the US investigation emerged in a six-page charge sheet filed at Virginia’s Eastern District court on March 6, 2018.
US prosecutors say Assange knew Manning had already handed over four huge secret databases to WikiLeaks in 2010.
They included 90,000 Afghanistan war reports, 400,000 Iraq reports, 800 briefings on Guantanamo Bay detainees and 250,000 diplomatic cables.
Despite that, he agreed to help crack the password, telling her: “Curious eyes never run dry in my experience.” Later, he asked her for more information to help the operation, adding: “No luck so far.”
The pair used the Jabber online chat service to plot the hack and took measures to cover Manning’s tracks as it unfolded, prosecutors allege.
CASE AGAINST HIM IN SWEDEN
SWEDISH prosecutors are considering relaunching a rape investigation into Julian Assange.
Officials said the allegations made against him were due to expire under the country’s statute of limitations in August next year.
But his arrest means the investigation could be reopened after a request from an alleged victim.
Deputy chief prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said: “We will now examine the matter to determine how we proceed. The preliminary investigation has therefore not been resumed yet and we do not know today whether it will happen. We cannot promise any timetable for when decisions will be made.”
Assange was accused of attacking a woman after they met at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm in 2010. She alleged that Assange had unprotected sex with her while she was asleep even though she had refused him repeatedly.
The case was dropped in May 2017 after the director of public prosecutions ruled it impossible to proceed while he was under Ecuador’s protection.
But yesterday, the woman’s lawyer Elisabeth Massi Fritz piled pressure on prosecutors, saying: “No rape victim should have to wait nine years to see justice be served.”
HIDING FOR SEVEN YEARS
Assange took refuge at the embassy in 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation. Today one of his accusers demanded the case be reopened.
Scotland Yard earlier confirmed he is being held on behalf of the US authorities – where he is wanted for espionage – as well as breaching his bail conditions in Britain.
America’s involvement raises further questions over the forthcoming battle to be had on his extradition – as his lawyers fear he will face the death penalty if sent to the US.
But Ecuadorian President Moreno said today Britain had confirmed it would not extradite Assange to a country where he could face the death sentence.
As he was hauled off to court yesterday, Ecuadorian minister Maria Paula Romo slammed Assange, 47, for failing to show embassy officials even “minimum respect” while staying as a guest.
She said: “They tolerated things like Mr Assange putting faeces on the walls of the embassy and other types of behaviour of this kind that are far removed from the minimum respect a guest should have in a country which has generously welcomed him.”
After the arrest, Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan said Assange will face “justice in the proper way in the UK” and it will be “for the courts” to decide what happens next.
He insisted Assange would not be extradited to any country where he would stand to face the death penalty.
During his time in hiding Assange has been visited by numerous famous faces – most notably ex-Baywatch star Pamela Anderson, once rumoured to be his “lover”.
Today she tweeted her support for him – dubbing him a “hero” – after earlier retweeting an old photograph of him alongside the caption “truth will prevail” in Latin.
The actress wrote she was “in shock”, adding “he looks very bad” and claiming Assange’s arrest is “a diversion from your idiotic Brexit b*******”.
She also tweeted: “How could you Equador? (Because he exposed you).
“How could you UK? Of course – you are America’s bitch and you need a diversion from your idiotic Brexit bulls**t.”
He has also been visited by ex-Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who is alleged to have handed him a “thumb drive” of secret data.
Farage has openly admitted visiting the WikiLeak founder but dismissed claims of sharing data as “tosh” and “conspiratorial nonsense”.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott sparked outrage after backing Assange in the Commons.
She said he had been targeted for “exposing wrongdoing by US administrations and their military forces”.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid called her comments “astounding”.
He added: “She is implying, actually quite clearly, that Mr Assange should be not subject to UK law.
“And that is something that should worry every British citizen should she ever become Home Secretary.”
ASSANGE WANTED OVER CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT COMPUTER INTRUSION
The US Department of Justice today announced Julian Assange has been charged in absence with conspiracy to hack into a classified government computer.
The charge relates to Assange’s alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the US.
It’s claimed that in March 2010, Assange conspired with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the US Army, to assist in cracking a password stored on US Department of Defence computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network – a US government network used for classified documents and communications.
Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks.
A US Department of Justice spokesman said: “Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a deceptive measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to determine the source of the illegal disclosures.
“During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange.
“The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that ‘after this upload, that’s all I really have got left’.
“To which Assange replied, ‘curious eyes never run dry in my experience’.
“Assange is charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.”
Assange was arrested after cops were invited into the embassy when Ecuadorian authorities withdrew the asylum he has clung onto for seven years.
The Ecuadorian government cited “discourteous and aggressive” behaviour as the reason why they stopped supporting him, adding his citizenship granted last year has also been revoked.
Dozens of officers swarmed his hideout in Knightsbridge, West London, this morning and pulled him down the steps, as he fought against the arrest.
Cops struggled to push him into a police van, as he screamed out and gestured with cuffed hands. Once inside the police van, the heavily bearded Assange gave a thumbs up to journalists.
Announcing the arrest today, Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno said on Twitter it came “after his repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols”.
But WikiLeaks said he had acted illegally, with the organisation accusing “powerful actors” of an effort to dehumanise it’s founder.
Edward Snowden today tweeted Assange’s detention was a “violation of his human rights”, as Russia brazenly accused Britain of “strangling freedom” following his arrest.
‘NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW’
Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who also made a statement in the House of Commons on the arrest, tweeted: “Nearly 7yrs after entering the Ecuadorean Embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK.
“I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation & @metpoliceuk for its professionalism. No one is above the law.”
He later said: “I am pleased that the situation in the Ecuadorian embassy has finally been brought to an end.
“Mr Assange will now have the opportunity to contest the charge against him in open court and to have nay extradition requests considered by the judiciary.”
And Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Assange’s arrest proved “no one is above the law”.
He said: “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.
He added the WikiLeaks’ founder had “held the Ecuadorian Embassy hostage in a situation that was absolutely intolerable for them”.
Praising Ecuador’s decision to stop his asylum, Mr Hunt said: “President Moreno took a courageous decision which has meant we were able to resolve the situation today.
“We’re not making any judgement about Julian Assange’s innocence or guilt, that is for the courts to decide.
“But what is not acceptable is for someone to escape facing justice and he has tried to do that for a very long time and that is why he is no hero.”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister told the Commons: “I am sure that the whole house will welcome the news that the Metropolitan Police have arrested Julian Assange.
“This is now a legal matter before the courts.”
Last night Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson blasted Ecuador’s decision to overturn his asylum status. She said: “Since 2010 we’ve warned that Julian Assange would face extradition to the US for his publishing activities.
“Unfortunately, today we have been proved right.” Of the US extradition bid, Ms Robinson said: “This sets a dangerous precedent for all journalists and media organisations in Europe and around the world.
“This precedent means that any journalist can be extradited for prosecution in the United States for having published truthful information about the United States.”
A Downing Street spokeswoman last night insisted the UK had not lobbied Ecuador to overturn Assange’s asylum.
Asked about Assange’s arrest yesterday, US President Donald Trump replied: “I know nothing about WikiLeaks.
“It’s not my thing.”
ASSANGE SAGA TIMELINE
Here are the key dates in the long-standing saga involving Wikileaks boss Julian Assange.
- July 2010: Wikileaks releases 720,000 classified files on Afghanistan and Iraq wars
- August 2010: Arrest warrant issued for Assange over rape and molestation allegations in Sweden, which he denies
- December 2010: Assange presents himself to London cops and appears at an extradition hearing
- December 2010: He is later granted conditional bail at the High Court in London after supporters pay £240,000 in cash and sureties
- February 2011: Brit courts rule Assange should be extradited to Sweden
- June 2012: The Wikileaks chief enters Ecuadorian embassy in London requesting political asylum
- June 2012: Just 24 hours later Scotland Yard says he’ll be arrested for breaching bail conditions
- August 2012: Ecuador grants asylum, allowing him to stay in the embassy – where he will remain for the next six and a half years
- August 2012: Assange makes first public appearance on embassy balcony calls for end to US ‘witch hunt’
- September 2014: Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood enjoy a trip to the embassy to meet their pal Assange. They join a long list of celebrity visors to enter the building – including Lady Gaga and Eric Cantona
- February 2016: UN says cooped-up Assange has been ‘arbitrarily detained’ and should claim compo from Britain and Sweden, but both countries ignore ruling
- May 2017: Swedish prosecutors close 7-year sex assault investigation, but Brit cops say they’ll still arrest Assange for breaching bail
- January 2018: Ecuador says it’s trying to find solution to resolve ‘untenable’ situation
- March 2018: Assange’s communications cut off after Ecuador alleges he broke agreement about interfering in other countries’ affairs
- April 2019: Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno says Mr Assange has ‘repeatedly violated’ asylum conditions
- 11 April 2019: Brit cops arrest Assange at embassy after asylum withdrawn and drag him screaming from building
FACING JUSTICE: Assange rape accuser demands case is reopened
ONE of Julian Assange’s rape accusers today demanded Swedish prosecutors re-open the sex assault case against him.
In August 2010, an arrest warrant was issued for Assange for two separate allegations – one of rape and one of molestation – after he visited Sweden.
The Wikileaks journalist, who denies the allegations, requested political asylum after British courts ruled that he should be extradited to Stockholm.
The reason the case was dropped was because authorities did not believe Assange would be handed over within a reasonable time.
Speaking today, the lawyer of one of the accusers said she hopes the Swedish preliminary investigation against Assange will resume.
“That what we have been waiting for and hoping for almost seven years now, of course, comes as a shock to my client.
“We will do everything we can to ensure that the prosecutors resume the Swedish preliminary investigation so that Assange can be extradited to Sweden and prosecuted for rape.”
It comes after it was revealed blackmailers have allegedly threatened to reveal sex secrets about Assange’s life inside the embassy as part of a £2.6million extortion plot.
Wikileaks chiefs have accused spies of installing hidden cameras to watch Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy.
The editor-in-chief of Wikileaks Kristinn Hrafnsson claimed Assange has been the victim of an “extreme spying operation”.
Immediately after Assange’s arrest, a prankster posted a joke Ecuadorian Ambassador AirBnB ad for a “spare room” with “stains on the wall”.
What is Wikileaks?
Wikileaks was set up in 2006 as an anti-secrecy organisation to allow whistleblowers to release information anonymously.
By 2015, the WikiLeaks website had published more than ten million documents including some classified as top secret.
The organisation says its purpose is “to bring important news and information to the public… so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.”
From early on it has faced fierce criticism from governments and defence and intelligence officials who accuse it of being irresponsible.
It is hosted on computer servers based in several countries around the world such as Iceland and Sweden where the law protects disclosures, putting it out of reach of efforts by US law enforcement bodies to close it down.
The US Justice Department launched a criminal probe into Wikileaks and its outspoken founder Julian Assange after the leak of diplomatic cables in 2010.
US soldier Chelsea Manning handed WikiLeaks 700,000 classified documents which led to the leak – she was given a 35-year prison sentence in 2013 but released in 2017.
In March 2019 she was jailed again for refusing to testify in a grand jury investigation targeting WikiLeaks.
Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden did not use WikiLeaks to publish his leaks about the National Security Agency, but fled to Moscow to avoid prosecution in the US on Assange’s advice.
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Confirming his arrest, a Met Police spokesman said: “He has been taken into custody at a central London police station where he will remain.
“The MPS had a duty to execute the warrant, on behalf of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, and was invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Julian Assange was arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America.
“He is accused in the United States of America of computer related offences.”
TAKING ITS TOLL: SEVEN YEARS IN HIDING
Pale, heavily bearded and unsteady, Julian Assange cut a very different figure today to the whistle-blower who sought asylum almost seven years ago.
Assange, the enigmatic figure behind the whistle-blowing WikiLeaks website, has become a poster boy for campaigners against state spying and censorship.
To his critics, he is a danger to national security and his work could make him the subject of espionage charges in the US.
The Australian started hacking into networks of the powerful elite when he was part of the “computer underground” in his late teens.
The 47-year-old shot to public attention after founding the pro-transparency website in 2006 as an online library of otherwise secret documents from governments, intelligence agencies, political parties and multinational corporations.
WikiLeaks servers are located all over the world, but the central server is located in an underground nuclear bunker in Stockholm, Sweden.
As the self-styled editor-in-chief of the site, he has overseen the publication of more than 10 million documents and attracted high-profile supporters including Pamela Anderson, novelist Tariq Ali, filmmaker Ken Loach and Jemima Goldsmith (nee Khan).
He has been quoted as saying: “It is the role of good journalism to take on powerful abusers.”
Among the major leaks since the site’s foundation were battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, diplomatic communications and a military video showing a US helicopter attack that killed at least 11 men.
Assange has been forced to deny Russian intelligence sources provided a trove of tens of thousands of emails from senior figures within the Democratic National Congress (DNC) during the US election campaign.
He published these alongside thousands of emails from the private server of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, originating from her time as Secretary of State, which the site obtained through freedom of information laws.
Assange, who studied at the University of Melbourne, stood down as editor of Wikileaks in September last year.
For more than a year, doctors have warned of the Australian’s declining health due to the “prolonged uncertainty of indefinite detention”.
A legal defence fund was set up in January amid fears the WikiLeaks founder was under “increasingly serious threat”.
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