Ruptly, the Berlin-based video news agency of the Kremlin-backed Russia Today, captured footage on Thursday of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s arrest and removal from Ecuador’s embassy in central London.
Assange, a 47-year-old Australian national, can be seen with a full white beard requesting to use the men’s room as officers from London’s Metropolitan Police removed him from the premises after Ecuador president Lenin Moreno withdrew its offer of asylum.
Assange has been holed up in a back room of the embassy for nearly seven years after seeking asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape accusation, which he denied and was later dropped.
But he still faced a lesser charge of skipping bail, and that seems to have activated Scotland Yard to detain him after Ecuador withdrew its asylum.
It is unclear if Assange might be extradited to the United States, where he has long been under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for WikiLeaks’ role in publishing thousands of government secrets. He was also an important figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, including how WikiLeaks obtained emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and Democratic groups.
Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, tweeted that her client “has been arrested not just for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a U.S. extradition request.”
In a tweet, WikiLeaks said Ecuador “has illegally terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law.” In a subsequent tweet, the organization said: “Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanize, delegitimize and imprison him.”
Moreno said his country “had reached its limit” with Assange in a statement acquired by the BBC that cited WikiLeaks’ January 2019 release of secret Vatican documents. “This and other publications have confirmed the world’s suspicion that Mr. Assange is still linked to WikiLeaks and therefore involved in interfering in internal affairs of other states,” Moreno said.
Watch the footage above.