In a fast-moving development since Julian Assange’s arrest inside the Ecuadorian embassy earlier today for breaching UK bail conditions, the Wikileaks founder has been rearrested on behalf of the U.S. — confirming that he will face extradition proceedings.
In an updated statement the Met Police said:
Julian Assange, 47, (03.07.71) 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.
Assange was rearrested while in custody of London’s Met Police, and is due in Westminster Magistrates court this afternoon, according to Wikileaks.
Wikileaks also tweeted that Assange has been arrested under a U.S. extradition warrant on a conspiracy charge for publishing classified information that was leaked to Wikileaks by former army intelligence analyst and whistleblower, Chelsea Manning .
Manning was pardoned by president Obama just before he left office at the start of 2017 and released from prison in May that year. However she was rearrested in March this year for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. Manning remains in prison in the U.S.
The existence of a sealed charge against Assange in the U.S. was revealed inadvertently last year after an unrelated court filing was found to contain information on a sealed charge against the Wikileaks founder.
The process of extraditing Assange to the U.S. could take years. And the outcome of the extradition process is not a foregone conclusion.
In the separate case of British computer hacker, Gary McKinnon, the then Home Secretary Theresa May stepped in to block extradition in 2012 on health grounds, for example.
Speaking to BBC News, one of Assange’s lawyers, the barrister Geoffrey Robertson, said (via The Guardian): “His case will be that America is behaving exorbitantly claiming to extradite a publisher who has published information of public importance.”
Robertson also suggested Assange is better off in U.K. police custody rather than the Ecuadorian embassy on account of his “health problems”.