Julian Assange has been arrested in London today at the Ecuadorian Embassy on a US extradition warrant. The London Metropolitan Police have arrested Assange in line with this warrant and for failing to surrender to the UK court for a bail issue. Theresa May confirmed this morning, in her House of Commons address, that Julian Assange was “arrested in relation to an extradition request from the United States’ authorities.”
The President of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno withdrew Assange’s asylum after his “repeated violations to international conventions”. Following the withdrawal, police were invited into the embassy and dragged Assange out, man-handling him into a police van. The WikiLeaks founder will remain in custody until being taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Assange has been in the Ecuadorian Embassy for seven years since he was granted asylum in 2012 to escape extradition to the US. In March 2018, the government of Ecuador imposed a “protocol” forbidding Assange from expressing his opinion or conducting journalism. The protocol threatened to revoke his asylum if breached. Assange was subsequently banned from access to the internet and from having visitors. In August 2018 Assange tweeted about the Catalan Independence Referendum to which President Moreno ominously declared that “measures will be taken” for his breach of the protocol. Then last week Moreno accused Assange of leaking photos of his family and private calls that connect the President to a corruption scandal. However, Fidel Narváez (former consul of Ecuador) said this was a “false pretext to end the asylum and protection of Julian Assange.”
Furthermore, the protocol, which Assange has supposedly breached, is itself a flagrant violation of the court ruling by the Interamerican Court on Human Rights. The ruling explicitly sets out Ecuador’s obligation to protect Assange and maintain his asylum arrangement in the London based embassy.
Now that Assange has been arrested he will soon be extradited to the US where he faces the rest of his life in prison for the leaking of US state secrets. Assange, now at the age of 47 faces up to 45 years in US jail for publishing documents that were leaked to him by other sources. This is a chilling attack on freedom of expression and could pave the way for future journalists, who are critical of US Imperialism, to also be extradited.
The Magistrate's Court will issue a sentence of 12 months in jail for evading bail, a charge which he denies.
As Marxists we defend whistleblowers like Assange and WikiLeaks for exposing the machinations of the global capitalist system. They help open our eyes to the grotesque corruption, espionage, blackmail etc. of the state which allow people to question this system. We say no to the extradition of Julian Assange and we defend freedom of expression and the right to information!