News & Politics

Julian Assange Arrested in London, Charged with Conspiracy to Hack U.S. Gov't Computer

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested and dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London by British police in a dramatic scene Thursday, ending his nearly seven-year stay at the embassy.

Video of Assange’s arrest showed him looking frail with a full white beard, and clutching an unidentified document or magazine, yelling, “UK resist! UK resist!”

Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s attorney, said in a tweet that Assange was arrested on an extradition request from the U.S. as well as on charges of breaching his bail conditions.

The 47-year-old Australian native is wanted in the U.S. for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables on the WikiLeaks website.

A statement on the U.S. Dept. of Justice website says Assange was arrested “in connection with a federal charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer.”

The indictment alleges that 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 the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications.

Ecuador announced that it had withdrawn Assange’s asylum in a “sovereign decision” moments before the arrest for “repeatedly violating international conventions and protocol,” Fox News reported.

“Today I announce that the discourteous and aggressive behavior of Mr. Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declarations of its allied organization, against Ecuador, and especially the transgression of international treaties, have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable,” Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said in a video statement posted on Twitter.

In an interview with ABC News yesterday, Jennifer Robinson said that Assange “is an Australian citizen who is a publisher who is being sought for prosecution in the United States, an Australian ally for publishing truthful information.”

She added: “This is a very serious matter. People have children who are six, seven years old. For their entire lives, he has been living inside that embassy room without access to medical treatment, without access to the outside world.”

Barry J. Pollack, another attorney for Assange, said in a statement that his client’s arrest at the embassy this morning was “bitterly disappointing.”

“It is bitterly disappointing that a country would allow someone to whom it has extended citizenship and asylum to be arrested in its embassy. First and foremost, we hope that the UK will now give Mr. Assange access to proper health care, which he has been denied for seven years,” the statement said.

“Once his health care needs have been addressed, the UK courts will need to resolve what appears to be an unprecedented effort by the United States seeking to extradite a foreign journalist to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information.”