Julian Assange arrested by British police

A police van parked outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London after Julian Assange was arrested.  Julian Assange (inset) as he was taken from the embassy.
A police van parked outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London after Julian Assange was arrested. Julian Assange (inset) as he was taken from the embassy.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by British police after they were invited into the Ecuadorean embassy where he has been holed up since 2012.

"Julian Assange, 47, has today, Thursday 11 April, been arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) at the Embassy of Ecuador," police said.

Police said they arrested Assange after being "invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorean government's withdrawal of asylum."

A bearded Assange resisted as he was dragged down several steps at Ecuador's London embassy by officers and bundled into a police van.

Assange took refuge in Ecuador's London embassy in 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation.

That probe was later dropped, but Assange fears he could be extradited to face charges in the United States, where federal prosecutors are investigating WikiLeaks.

Assange was taken into custody at a central London police station and he will be brought before Westminster Magistrates' Court, police said.

Assange's relationship with his hosts collapsed after Ecuador accused him of leaking information about President Lenin Moreno's personal life. Moreno had previously said Assange has violated the terms of his asylum.

Julian Assange (inset) as he was taken from the embassy.

Julian Assange (inset) as he was taken from the embassy.

Moreno said that he had asked Britain to guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to a country where he could face torture or the death penalty.

"The British government has confirmed it in writing, in accordance with its own rules," Moreno said.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has thanked Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno for allowing police to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at Ecuador's London embassy.

"Julian Assange is no hero and no one is above the law. He has hidden from the truth for years," Hunt tweeted.

"Thank you Ecuador and President @Lenin Moreno for your cooperation with @foreignoffice to ensure Assange faces justice."

WikiLeaks said Ecuador had illegally terminated Assange's political asylum in violation of international law.

To some, Assange is a hero for exposing what supporters cast as abuse of power by modern states and for championing free speech.

But to others, he is a dangerous rebel who has undermined the security of the United States.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, answering a question about the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London, said Moscow hopes that his rights will not be violated.

Assange was arrested by British police on Thursday after they were invited into the Ecuadorean embassy where he has been holed up since 2012.

Australian Associated Press