LONDON (AP) — Police in London say they’ve arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy on a court warrant dating back to 2012.
In a statement Thursday, 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.”
Assange hasn’t left the embassy since August 2012 for fear that if he steps off Ecuador’s diplomatic soil he will be arrested and extradited to the U.S. for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks on Wednesday accused the Ecuadorian government of spying on Julian Assange as tensions mounted between the WikiLeaks founder and his hosts.
The group’s editor-in-chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, told a news conference that Assange’s meetings with lawyers and a doctor had been secretly filmed by Ecuadorian authorities.
Sweden has dropped an investigation into rape allegations against Assange, but he refuses to come out for fear of facing U.S. charges related to WikiLeaks’ publication of classified documents. He also faces arrest in Britain for jumping bail.
Relations between Assange and his Ecuadorian hosts have turned sour in recent weeks with a series of accusations from both sides. Assange’s team fears he may be expelled from his refuge.
Ecuador’s vice president, Otto Sonnenholzner, says Assange will have to “abide by the consequences” if he is found to have violated an embassy protocol put in place in October.
Speaking to the Sonorama radio station, he said, “The only thing Ecuador demands is fulfillment of the protocol, a protocol that limits certain privileges.”
He said the protocol imposed in October has allowed the country to cut its budget for maintaining Assange, which officials had estimated at $1 million a year. It sets rules on visits, medical spending, food, internet use and other issues.
Sonnenholzner said Foreign Minister José Valencia will present a report about compliance with the protocol to President Lenín Moreno on Wednesday and will do the same on Thursday to congressional leaders.
Following the report, he said, “we will see … what happens in that situation.”