London Metropolitan Police arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday after Ecuador revoked the political asylum that had given him sanctuary for almost seven years following a deluge of pressure by the United States and Britain.

London police said they were invited into the embassy by Ecuador’s ambassador. Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 after he was released on bail while facing extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations that he has always denied and that have since been dropped.

Assange has been under U.S. Justice Department scrutiny for years for Wikileaks’ role in publishing thousands of embarrassing government secrets and was an important figure in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe as investigators examined how WikiLeaks obtained emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and Democratic groups.

Video posted online by Ruptly showed several men in suits carrying Assange out of the embassy building and loading him into a police van while uniformed British police officers formed a passageway.

Assange sported a full beard and slicked-back grey hair and allegedly carried a copy of Gore Vidal’s History of the National Security State in his hands. The Wikileaks founder can also be heard shouting something as he is being dragged into the police van, but there is some debate about what he said. Wikileaks claims he was shouting “the UK must resist this attempt by the Trump administration.”

He was taken to a London police station and will be brought to Westminster Magistrates’ Court, according to his mother, Christine Assange.

Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, said his government made a “sovereign decision” to revoke Assange’s political asylum due to “repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life.”  The moves came not long after the government of Ecuador accused Wikileaks of publishing embarrassing and potentially incriminating information on Moreno in a trove of documents referred to as the INA Papers.

“Today I announce that 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,” Moreno said in a video released on Twitter.  In the video, Moreno declared his Assange’s asylum “unsustainable and no longer viable” accused him of repeatedly violated “clear cut provisions of the conventions of on diplomatic asylum.”

Wikileaks accused Ecuador of illegally terminating Assange’s asylum, adding that the Ecuadorian ambassador invited police inside the embassy to take Assange into custody.

His lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said in tweet that he had been arrested for breaching his bail conditions and in relation to a U.S. extradition request. The U.S. warrant was apparently delivered in December 2017, meaning U.S prosecutors likely played a key role in Assange’s arrest.

Prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia have inadvertently disclosed the existence of a sealed criminal complaint against Assange, though no details have been publicly announced.

WikiLeaks quickly drew attention to U.S. interest in Assange.

“Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to de-humanize, de-legitimize and imprison him,” said in a tweet over a photo of Assange’s smiling face.

Assange had not come out of the embassy for almost seven years because he feared arrest and extradition to the United States for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks. Although Sweden has dropped the sexual assault case that first led to Assange’s arrest in Britain, U.K. authorities said he would be rearrested if he ever left the embassy because he skipped bail in the original case.

Last week, a UN envoy on torture warned against the termination of Assange’s asylum, telling Ecuador that Assange could have torture at hands of U.S. officials if he were extradited to the United States.

London’s Metropolitan Police Service said Assange was 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.”

His arrest came a day after WikiLeaks accused Ecuador’s government of an “extensive spying operation” against Assange. WikiLeaks claims that meetings with lawyers and a doctor inside the embassy over the past year were secretly filmed. The organization said in a tweeted statement that Ecuador illegally terminated Assange’s political asylum “in violation of international law.”

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.”

Wikileaks is asking supporters to donate to help Assange pay his legal fees as he readies for long and complicated trial and put blame on the CIA for orchestration his arrest.

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 UK’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.

He also beseeched journalists covering the story not to overlook United Nations rulings on Assange, which include calls for his release.

“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.

Top photo | Julian Assange gives the thumbs up as he is whisked away in a police van en route to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Henry Nicholls | Reuters

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