The Latest: Quito arrest part of Assange probe
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London (all times local):
Friends of a Swedish software developer arrested in Ecuador as part of a probe into Julian Assange’s alleged efforts to stave off his eviction from the country’s embassy are describing him as a soft-spoken geek being unfairly accused of plotting to destabilize the government.
A senior Ecuadorian official said Ola Bini was arrested Thursday at Quito’s airport as he was preparing to board a flight for Japan. Authorities haven’t presented any charges against Bini but the official said they are looking into whether he was part of a possible effort by Assange and Wikileaks to blackmail President Lenin Moreno.
Vijay Prashad runs a Marxist publishing house based in India and considers himself a close friend of Bini. He said Bini is “the last person who would ever be involved in an attempt overthrow a government.”
Prashad said he last saw Bini a few months ago in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He said he didn’t know if Bini had any links to Wikileaks or Assange, adding that his work as a privacy advocate are being unfairly equated by the Ecuadorians with criminal activity.
The arrest came after British police dragged Assange out of Ecuador’s embassy when his seven-year asylum was revoked.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne says Australia remains “completely opposed” to the death penalty amid fears that Australian native Julian Assange could be exposed to such punishment if he is extradited to the United States.
Australian consular officials plan to visit the WikiLeaks founder in a London jail on Friday a day after he was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy where he’d been holed up nearly seven years. For now, he faces a single computer conspiracy charge in the U.S. that does not carry the death penalty, but his supporters fear more serious charges may be brought later.
Payne said Friday the U.K. had sought assurances from the U.S. that Assange would not be exposed to the death penalty.
Assange plans to fight extradition, but Australian leaders have indicated they wouldn’t intervene.
A senior Ecuadorian official says a Swedish software developer living in Quito and who is allegedly close to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested as authorities attempt to dismantle a blackmail ring that in recent days had threatened to retaliate against President Lenin Moreno.
The official said Ola Bini was arrested Thursday at Quito’s airport as he was preparing to board a flight for Japan.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity and didn’t provide any additional details about Bini.
On a blog, a Swedish man by the same name describes himself as a software developer working in Quito for the Center for Digital Autonomy, a group based in Ecuador and Spain focused on privacy, security and cryptography issues. It makes no mention of any affiliation with Wikileaks.
On Twitter earlier Thursday, Bini called claims by the Interior Minister that Russian hackers and someone close to Wikileaks were working inside Ecuador “very worrisome” news. “This seems like a witch hunt to me,” Bini wrote.
The arrest came after British police dragged Assange out of Ecuador’s embassy when his seven-year asylum was revoked.
By Gonzalo Solano in Quito, Ecuador.
Hillary Clinton says newly arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange needs to “answer for what he has done.”
The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and former secretary of state weighed in on Assange on Thursday at an event in New York for her and husband Bill Clinton’s speaking tour.
WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers during the 2016 election season hurt Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Assange was arrested by British police Thursday at the Ecuadorian Embassy where he had been holed up for nearly seven years under political asylum. The U.S. has charged him with conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer at the Pentagon.
Clinton says, “The bottom line is that he has to answer for what he has done.”
Ecuador’s interior minister says a person suspected of being a key player for Wikileaks and close to Julian Assange has been detained at Quito’s airport trying to fly to Japan.
María Paula Romo says the person arrested allegedly conspired against the Ecuadorian government.
The Ecuadorian official said the arrest Thursday afternoon was the result of an investigation to verify information given by police.
She did not identify the person.
British police dragged WikiLeaks founder Assange out of Ecuador’s embassy on Thursday after his seven-year asylum was revoked, paving the way for his extradition to the United States.
Australia’s prime minister has ruled out intervention in a potential U.S. extradition of Australian citizen Julian Assange on a charge of computer intrusion conspiracy.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Australian Broadcasting Corp. the charge is a “matter for the United States” and has nothing to do with Australia.
Morrison says Assange is receiving standard consular assistance offered to Australians in trouble in other countries.
Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is criticizing what he considers a “double standard” by Western media and governments who he says have been quick to condemn Julian Assange for publishing sensitive information about U.S. national security interests.
Correa granted Assange asylum in 2012. In an interview with The Associated Press, he is harshly critical of his successor’s decision to expel the Wikileaks founder from Ecuador’s embassy in London.
Ecuador’s former president said that “although Julian Assange denounced war crimes, he’s only the person supplying the information.”
Correa said “It’s the New York Times, the Guardian and El Pais publishing it. Why aren’t those journalists and media owners thrown in jail?”
British police on Thursday hauled a bearded and shouting Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy where he was holed up for nearly seven years, and the U.S. charged the WikiLeaks founder with conspiring to obtain government secrets.
Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno is lashing out again at Julian Assange, calling him a “miserable hacker” and “spoiled brat” who was disrespectful to officials charged with taking care of him at the country’s embassy in London.
Moreno repeated allegations that Assange smearing of his own fecal matter on the walls of the embassy building and said that was a sign of how the WikiLeaks founder viewed Ecuador as an insignificant, third-rate country.
“When you’re given shelter, cared for and provided food you don’t denounce the owner of the house,” said Moreno to applause at an event outside Quito.
He added that Ecuador will “be more careful in giving asylum to people who are really worth it and not miserable hackers whose only goal is to destabilize governments.”
In his words, “We are tolerant, calm people but we’re not stupid.”
The French lawyer for Julian Assange says he wants President Emmanuel Macron to intervene to bring him from a London jail to France, where his small child lives.
Juan Branco suggested in an interview hours after the arrest Thursday of the Wikileaks founder that he could risk life in prison on trumped-up charges if extradited to the U.S.
Assange faces U.S. charges related to publication of tens of thousands of classified government documents, with an extradition hearing May 2.
For Branco, Assange is a journalist who “revealed information to the general public about crimes against humanity, war crimes.” He said the arrest is “some kind of revenge.”
Branco spoke to Assange last week and said he last saw him at Christmas at the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Ecuador’s government says that as tensions with Julian Assange mounted in recent weeks, the WikiLeaks founder acted out with hostility against his hosts at the country’s embassy in London.
Foreign Minister José Valencia spoke to lawmakers Thursday and described what he said were Assange’s repeated violations of the conditions of his asylum that led the government to expel him from the diplomatic mission after almost seven years and hand him over to British authorities.
He said what began as erratic behavior by Assange — roller skating and playing soccer in embassy hallways and listening to loud music at all hours — evolved in recent months into aggressive behavior toward embassy staff.
Valencia said that Assange on occasions hit staff charged with guaranteeing his wellbeing and accused embassy officials of being U.S. spies looking to exchange information on WikiLeaks in exchange for debt relief for Ecuador.
The legal team for former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning says the indictment of Julian Assange shows prosecutors didn’t need her testimony to criminally charge the WikiLeaks founder.
The U.S. Justice Department charged Julian Assange on Thursday with conspiring with Manning to break into a classified government computer.
Manning has been jailed for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury in Virginia that is investigating WikiLeaks. Assange is accused of agreeing to help Manning steal classified information by trying to crack a password to a U.S. government computer system. His attempts were unsuccessful.
Manning’s lawyers noted Assange’s indictment was returned more than a year before their client refused to testify. In a statement, they said Manning should be released because her continued detention would be “purely punitive.”
The lawyers plan to raise these issues in a brief before an appellate court Thursday.
The Justice Department charged Assange after he was taken into custody in connection with a U.S. extradition request and for skipping bail when he sought asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London in 2012.
U.S. President Donald Trump is claiming to “know nothing about WikiLeaks” despite past praise for the anti-secrecy organization.
Trump was asked in the Oval Office on Thursday about the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London.
The president, who was sitting next to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said “It’s not my thing” and didn’t elaborate.
Trump praised WikiLeaks more than 100 times during the stretch run of the 2016 presidential campaign.
That fall, WikiLeaks released stolen embarrassing emails from the campaign of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.
A disheveled Assange was hauled out of the Ecuadorian Embassy where he hid for more than 6 ½ years.
U.S. charges related to the publication of tens of thousands of secret government documents could bring a court battle over attempts to extradite him.
Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is accusing the nation’s current leader of retaliating against Julian Assange for WikiLeaks’ publication of documents that allegedly implicate President Lenin Moreno in corruption.
Correa — who led the South American nation when Assange was granted asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy — said Thursday that the decision to revoke asylum is “cowardly.”
In a stream of remarks on Twitter, Correa criticized Moreno for allowing British authorities to arrest Assange, and linked that to WikiLeaks’ disclosure about an offshore bank account allegedly linked to Moreno’s family and friends.
Correa said the decision “will never been forgotten by all of humanity.”
Former Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino also rejected allegations by Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo claiming that a close collaborator of WikiLeaks had traveled with him to several countries this year, accusing her of “inventing a story.”
An independent U.N. human rights expert says Julian Assange’s arrest won’t deter his efforts to determine if the privacy rights of the WikiLeaks founder were violated.
UN Special Rapporteur Joe Cannataci had planned to travel to London on April 25 to meet with Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy, where Assange sought asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden. Cannataci says he still plans to keep the meeting despite Assange’s arrest at the embassy on Thursday.
Cannataci said in a statement: “I will visit him and speak to him in a police station or elsewhere in the U.K. where Cannataci in a statement.
He says the U.N. human rights office plans to ask the British government to give him access to Assange on April 25.
And if Assange is extradited to the United States by then, Cannataci said “then I will direct my request for access to the government of the United States.”
Julian Assange’s lawyer says the WikiLeaks founder will fight his extradition to the United States.
Attorney Jennifer Robinson sounded defiant as she spoke to reporters after Assange was arrested in London on Thursday morning. She said the arrest sets a dangerous precedent for the rights of journalists.
Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he took asylum in 2012 while facing extradition to Sweden.
Robinson suggested Assange had long said he would be arrested if he was expelled if Ecuador expelled him from the embassy. She says at least he can now get medical care while in jail.
The defense team could fight attempts to extradite Assange to the United States to face charges related to the publication of tens of thousands of secret government documents.
Russia is criticizing the way in which London police arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the foreign embassy where he took asylum in 2012 and since remained in hiding.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday the way Assange was treated gave “the full impression of an open and rude disregard for the human dignity of the arrested.”
She said: Russia hopes “all the rights of Julian Assange will be respected.”
Ecuador’s president says his government withdrew Assange’s asylum status almost seven years after he sought refuge in the country’s embassy in London, alleging “repeated violations of international conventions and daily-life protocols.”
A judge in London has found WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange guilty of breaching his bail at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Judge Michael Snow quickly issued his verdict on Thursday after Assange appeared in the courtroom where his supporters packed the public gallery.
Assange faces a sentence of up to 12 months for the conviction, and has serious charges pending in the United States.
The basis of Assange’s defense was that he couldn’t expect a fair trial in British courts as the U.K.’s purpose was to “secure his delivery” to the United States
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has entered an innocent plea to a charge that he failed to surrender to custody under an order for his extradition to Sweden.
Assange faced sexual assault allegations in Sweden when he sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London 2012. The sexual assault charges have since been dropped, but a charge of skipping bail remained in place.
He entered the plea at Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday.
He is also facing a potential court battle over attempts to extradite him to the United States to answer charges related to the publication of tens of thousands of secret government documents.
Julian Assange is appearing in a London court as it considers a U.S. extradition request on criminal charges over the publication of tens of thousands of secret government documents.
Assange saluted supporters who packed a public gallery at Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday and gave them a thumb’s-up.
Wearing a black suit and polo shirt, Assange calmly sat reading a Gore Vidal book while waiting for his lawyers to arrive.
Police in London arrested the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian embassy, where he took refuge in August 2012.
The U.S. Justice Department has charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with conspiring with Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer.
The charge was announced Thursday after Assange was taken into custody in London in connection with a U.S. extradition request, as well as for breaching U.K. bail conditions in 2012.
His lawyer has previously said that Assange planned to fight any U.S. charges against him.
The indictment accuses Assange of assisting Manning, a former U.S. intelligence analyst, in cracking a password that helped Manning infiltrate Pentagon computers.
Ecuador’s government says that as part of its decision to expel Julian Assange from its embassy in London, it has withdrawn the Ecuadorian citizenship he was granted last year in a failed attempt to end the activist’s tumultuous stay at its diplomatic mission.
Ecuador also accused supporters of WikiLeaks and two Russian hackers of attempting to destabilize their country.
Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said in Quito a close collaborator of WikiLeaks had traveled with former Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino this year to several countries, including Peru, Spain and Venezuela, in an attempt to undermine the government. She did not identify the individual but said their name, as well as two Russian hackers working in Ecuador, would be turned over to judicial authorities in the coming hours.
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May says the arrest of Julian Assange shows that “no one is above the law.”
May was speaking to the House of Commons after the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder, who was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy Thursday after taking refuge there for seven years to avoid extradition. Ecuador announced it was revoking Assange’s asylum status, citing repeated violations of international conventions.
Assange is expected to appear at Westminster Magistrates court later Thursday on allegations of breaching bail conditions dating to 2012, and on extradition charges to the United States.
A U.S. official says the Justice Department is preparing to announce charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The official spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because no charges have yet been announced.
The exact nature of the charges was not immediately known.
Assange was arrested Thursday in London by police for breaching 2012 bail conditions as well as on an extradition request from the United States.
--By Eric Tucker in Washington, D.C.
Sweden’s Chief Prosecutor Ingrid Isgren says “we have not been able to decide on the available information” whether a stalled investigation into alleged sexual offenses against Julian Assange could be reopened if he returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in August 2020.
In 2017, Swedish prosecutors dropped a long-running inquiry into a rape claim against Assange, saying there was no way to detain or charge him “in the foreseeable future” because of his protected status inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Assange was arrested earlier Thursday at the embassy, where he had been holed up for seven years
Edward Snowden, the former security contractor who leaked classified information about U.S. surveillance programs, says the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a blow to media freedom.
“Images of Ecuador’s ambassador inviting the U.K.’s secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of--like it or not--award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books,” Snowden said in a tweet.
“Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom.”
Snowden was charged by the United States in 2013 of violating the country’s espionage act. He was granted asylum by Russia that year and the asylum has been extended until at least 2020.
London police say they have arrested Julian Assange on extradition charges to the United States, as well as for breaching U.K. bail conditions.
Scotland Yard said in a statement Thursday that Assange was “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.”
The WikiLeaks founder sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, after he was released on bail while facing extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations. The accusations have since been dropped but he was still wanted for jumping bail.
Separately, he has been under U.S. Justice Department scrutiny for years for WikiLeaks’ role in publishing thousands of government secrets.
A senior member of Germany’s opposition Left party says Europe must not allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to the United States for trial.
Sevim Dagdelen said in a statement that the withdrawal of Assange’s political asylum by Ecuador and his subsequent arrest by British police was a “scandal, a violation of international law, and at the same time a severe blow to independent journalism.”
She says it is the German government’s “duty” now to prevent Britain, which earlier Thursday was granted an extension to its departure from the European Union, from extraditing Assange to the U.S., “where he faces life imprisonment or even the death penalty for exposing U.S. war crimes.”
Julian Assange’s attorney Jennifer Robinson says the WikiLeaks founder had been arrested on an extradition request from the United States as well as on charges of breaching his bail conditions.
In a tweet, Robinson said Assange “has been arrested not just for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a US extradition request.”
The U.S. Justice Department inadvertently revealed the existence of a sealed criminal case against Assange in a court filing last year. It’s not clear what he’s been accused of.
Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who leaked a trove of classified material to WikiLeaks, was jailed last month after she refused to testify before a grand jury.
In a statement Thursday, Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi said: “We are aware of the reports that Julian Assange was taken into custody by United Kingdom authorities.”
The Swedish woman who alleged that she was raped by Julian Assange during a visit to Stockholm in 2010 has welcomed his arrest in London.
Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for the unnamed woman, says news of Assange’s arrest earlier Thursday came as “a shock to my client” and that it was something “we have been waiting and hoping for since 2012.”
Massi Fritz said in a text message sent to The Associated Press that “we are going to do everything” to have the Swedish case reopened “so Assange can be extradited to Sweden and prosecuted for rape.”
Massi Fritz said “no rape victim should have to wait nine years to see justice be served.”
In 2017, Sweden’s top prosecutor dropped a long-running inquiry into a rape claim against Assange, saying there was no way to have Assange detained or charged within a foreseeable future because of his protected status inside the embassy.
WikiLeaks has accused “powerful actors,” including the CIA, of a “sophisticated” effort to dehumanize Julian Assange.
The comments by the organization Assange founded came soon after he was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been holed up for seven years.
In a tweet, the organization posted a photo of Assange with the words: “This man is a son, a father, a brother. He has won dozens of journalism awards. He’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanize, delegitimize and imprison him. #ProtectJulian.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says Russia wants Julian Assange’s rights to be observed following his arrest.
Shortly after Assange’s arrest in London, Dmitry Peskov told reporters that he could not comment on the overall case.
But, he said, “We of course hope that all of his rights will be observed.”
Ecuador’s president says his government withdrew asylum status for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange almost seven years after he sought refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London, citing “repeated violations of international conventions and daily-life protocols.”
Lenin Moreno announced the “sovereign decision” in a statement accompanied by a video on Twitter on Thursday.
Assange hasn’t left the embassy since August 2012 for fear that if he steps off Ecuador’s diplomatic soil he would be arrested and extradited to the U.S. for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.
London police arrested Assange at the embassy Thursday on a court warrant issued in 2012, when he failed to surrender to the court.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt thanked Moreno for breaking the impasse, saying on Twitter that Assange “is no hero and no one is above the law.”
Police in London say they’ve arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy on a court warrant dating back to 2012.
In a statement Thursday, police said Assange has been taken into “custody at a central London police station where he will remain, before being presented before Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as is possible.”
Assange hasn’t left the embassy since August 2012 for fear that if he steps off Ecuador’s diplomatic soil he will be arrested and extradited to the U.S. for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.
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