UPDATED: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested in London…US files charges

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U.S. prosecutors announced that they had charged Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks website, with conspiracy in trying to access a classified U.S. government computer with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010.

Assange  faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison on the American charges, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.

The Justice Department said Assange, 47, was arrested pursuant to the U.S./UK Extradition Treaty, and accused him of involvement in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.

The indictment said that Assange in March 2010 engaged in a conspiracy to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications.

He was charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

Earlier, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London, police have said.

His London arrest paved the way for his possible extradition to the United States.

Assange, sporting a long white beard, was carried out by police officers from the embassy and moved into a police van.

The Wikileaks founder has been living in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012 after he sought refuge there following a British judge ruling he should be extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations.

The Met Police said he was arrested for failing to surrender to the court.

Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno said Ecuador withdrew Assange’s asylum after his repeated violations to international conventions.

But WikiLeaks tweeted that Ecuador had acted illegally in terminating Mr Assange’s political asylum “in violation of international law”.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK.

Mr Assange, 47, had refused to leave the embassy, claiming if he did he would be extradited to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks.


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