By DANICA KIRKA Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department has charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with conspiring with Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer.
The charge was announced Thursday after Assange was taken into custody in London in connection with a U.S. extradition request, as well as for breaching U.K. bail conditions in 2012.
His lawyer has previously said that Assange planned to fight any U.S. charges against him.
The indictment accuses Assange of assisting Manning, a former U.S. intelligence analyst, in cracking a password that helped Manning infiltrate Pentagon computers.
The U.S. Justice Department inadvertently revealed the existence of a sealed criminal case against Assange in a court filing last year. It’s not clear what he’s been accused of.
Manning, who leaked a trove of classified material to WikiLeaks, was jailed last month after she refused to testify before a grand jury.
Police said Assange has been 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.”
Video posted online by Ruptly, the agency wing of Russia Today, showed about five to six men in suits forcibly escorting Assange out of the embassy building, surrounding him as he staggered down the steps and boarded a police van.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) April 11, 2019
Police said officers were invited into the embassy by the ambassador following the Ecuador government’s withdrawal of Assange’s asylum.
Assange had not come out of the embassy for years because he feared arrest and extradition to the United States for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.
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.”
His arrest came a day after WikiLeaks accused the Ecuador’s government of an “extensive spying operation” against Assange.
WikiLeaks claims meetings with lawyers and a doctor inside the embassy over the past year were secretly filmed.
WikiLeaks said in a tweeted statement that Ecuador illegally terminated Assange’s political asylum “in violation of international law.”