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Julian Assange arrested by Met police after US extradition warrant as Ecuador withdraws asylum status

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Julian Assange has been arrested by the Metropolitan Police and faces possible extradition to the US after being expelled from the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he has been hiding as a fugitive for seven years.

Dramatic footage posted online shows a bearded  Julian Assange shouting as he is carried by seven police officers out of the embassy and bundled into a police vehicle.

He is due to be presented before Westminster Magistrates’ Court at around3 pm for his hearing on the alleged bail offence. The extradition hearing will be heard after.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed he was arrested in response to an extradition warrant by the US, as well as for skipping bail in the UK.

In a statement, the Home Office said: “We can confirm that Julian Assange was arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America.

“He is accused in the United States of America computer related offences.”

The US department of justice confirmed he has been charged with computer crimes, and added in a statement that if extradited and convicted he will face up to five years in prison.

The statement reads: “According to court documents unsealed today, the charge relates to Assange’s alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.

“Assange is charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.”

Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno said Assange had been “discourteous and aggressive” during his stay and added that he had broken multiple conditions of his asylum.

He said: “He particularly violated the norm of not intervening in the internal affairs of other states.

“The most recent incident occurred in January 2019, when WikiLeaks leaked Vatican documents. Key members of that organisation visited Mr Assange before and after such illegal acts.”

He also claimed  Julian Assange had installed “distortion equipment” in the embassy, and that he had “mistreated guards”.

Finally, he said, two days ago the 47-year-old “threatened Ecuador” through Wikileaks.

The Wikileaks founder was wanted by the UK police for breaching his bail conditions, after a saga that began in November 2010, when Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Julian Assange after authorities in the country questioned him over allegations of sexual assault and rape, which he denied.

He claimed he would be extradited from Sweden to the US because of his role in publishing hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables.

The hacker surrendered to British police in 2012 and was released on bail within 10 days, but breached his bail conditions after an unsuccessful appeal against extradition to Sweden.

He was then granted asylum by Ecuador and allowed to remain in the embassy.

Sweden has rescinded its arrest warrant, but prosecutors have stressed that the case was not closed and could be picked up again.

A police spokesperson said: “Julian Assange, 47, has today, Thursday 11 April, been arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service at the Embassy of Ecuador, Hans Crescent, SW1 on a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 29 June 2012, for failing to surrender to the court.”

Later, the police added that he was “arrested on behalf of the United States authorities, at 10:53hrs after his arrival at a central London police station. This is an extradition warrant under Section 73 of the Extradition Act. He will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as possible.”

The Wikileaks Twitter account posted: “Ecuador has illegally terminated Julian Assange political asylum in violation of international law.” One of his lawyers, Jen Robinson, tweeted her fears that he would be extradited to the US.

His friend, Baywatch star Pamela Anderson, posted on Twitter that she was worried about his health. She wrote: “He looks very bad.” She said of those who arrested him: “You are devils and liars and thieves. And you will rot”.

The whistleblower and fugitive Edward Snowden added: “Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom.”

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said President Moreno made a “courageous decision”, adding: “it’s not so much that Julian Assange was being held hostage in the Ecuadorian Embassy, it was actually Julian Assange holding the Ecuadorian Embassy hostage.

“It was a situation that was absolutely intolerable to them.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “Nearly 7yrs after entering the Ecuadorean Embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK.

“I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation & @metpoliceuk for its professionalism. No one is above the law”.

Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, Sir Alan Duncan, added: “It is absolutely right that Assange will face justice in the proper way in the UK. It is for the courts to decide what happens next.

“We are very grateful to the Government of Ecuador under President Moreno for the action they have taken.

“Today’s events follow the extensive dialogue between our two countries.

“I look forward to a strong bilateral relationship between the UK and Ecuador in the years ahead.”

Sweden’s Chief Prosecutor Ingrid Isgren said: “This is news to us too, so we have not been able to take a position on the information that is now available. We also do not know why he is under arrest. We are following the developments.”

The Swedish authorities dropped their investigations into sex allegations against Mr Julian Assange, which he had always denied.

However, the Swedish woman made the allegations has welcomed his arrest.

Elisabeth Massi Fritz, who represents the unnamed woman, said news of Assange’s arrest was “a shock to my client” and something “we have been waiting and hoping for since 2012”.

Ms Massi Fritz said in a text message sent to the Associated Press that “we are going to do everything” to have the Swedish case reopened “so Assange can be extradited to Sweden and prosecuted”.The Telegraph

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Chris Cash: The UK Parliamentary Researcher Accused of Spying for Beijing Authorities

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In March of this year, a British parliamentary researcher was arrested on suspicion of being a Chinese spy. The researcher, Chris Cash, was revealed to be a 28-year-old history graduate with links to many Tory MPs. He had been seen associating with senior Tories such as security minister Tom Tugendhat and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns. Cash was believed to have been recruited as a sleeper agent while living and working in China and sent back to the UK to infiltrate political networks critical of the Beijing regime.

Cash was the leader of the China Research Group, a body advocating for a more hawkish British policy towards China. Co-founded by Tory ministers Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien in April 2020, the group focused on industrial, technological, and foreign policy issues. The group’s website claimed that it aimed to provide informed knowledge on China and promote debate and fresh thinking about how Britain should respond to the rise of China.

Chris Cash was arrested in Edinburgh and released on bail until early October, along with another suspect. It is unclear how much access Cash had to foreign affairs intelligence or what kind of influence he may have held in Westminster. While he held a parliamentary pass, he did not have security clearance.

China has denied all accusations of involvement in an espionage scheme involving Cash, calling them malicious slander.

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Pope Sends Prayers to Comfort Morocco Earthquake Victims as Death Toll Surpasses 2,000

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On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his prayers and support for the victims of the powerful earthquake that hit Morocco, resulting in the highest number of fatalities in over 60 years. During his Angelus message, he prayed for those injured and those who lost their lives, along with their families.

The Pope also expressed his gratitude towards the rescue workers who are working tirelessly to help the victims. He concluded by saying that they stand in solidarity with the people of Morocco during this difficult time.

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African Union’s Inclusion in G20: A Significant Acknowledgment of a Continent with 1 Billion Inhabitants

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The world’s most powerful economies, the G20, have welcomed the African Union (AU) as a permanent member, recognising Africa’s more than 50 countries as important players on the global stage. US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both expressed support for the AU’s permanent membership.

The AU has advocated for full membership for seven years and, until now, South Africa was the only African country in the G20. The AU represents a continent with a young population of 1.3 billion, which is set to double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the world’s population.

Africa’s 55 member states have long pushed for meaningful roles in global bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, and want reforms to the global financial system. The continent is increasingly attracting investment and political interest from global powers like China, Russia, Gulf nations, Turkey, Israel, and Iran. African leaders are challenging the framing of the continent as passive victim and want to be brokers instead.

They seek fairer treatment by financial institutions, delivery of rich countries’ long-promised $100 billion a year in climate financing for developing nations, and a global tax on fossil fuels. The AU’s full G20 membership will enable it to represent a continent that’s home to the world’s largest free trade area and abundant resources needed to combat climate change. The African continent has 60% of the world’s renewable energy assets and over 30% of the minerals key to renewable and low-carbon technologies.

African leaders want more industrial development closer to home to benefit their economies. Finding a common position among the AU’s member states, from economic powers to some of the world’s poorest nations, can be challenging, but Africa will need to speak with one voice to influence G20 decision-making. African leaders have shown their willingness to take collective action, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a high-profile G20 member, Africa’s demands will be harder to ignore.

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