“Today I announce that that the discourteous and aggressive behavior of Mr. Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declarations of its allied organization, against Ecuador, and especially the transgression of international treaties, have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable,” Moreno said in a video statement posted on Twitter.
Video of Assange’s arrest showed him with a full white beard and yelling something out to reporters as he was being dragged from the embassy, but it was unclear what he said.
Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Jose Valencia told Teleamazonas this week that living in the embassy indefinitely is bad for Assange’s "state of mind, his health,” but that Assange has a right to a fair trial and right to a defense.
London's Metropolitan Police vowed earlier this month to arrest the 47-year-old Australian native if he were freed. Assange, who has lived in the embassy for more than six years, faces possible extradition to the U.S. for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.
FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stands on the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy to address waiting supporters and media in London. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)
Assange has been in the embassy since 2012 when British courts ordered him extradited to Sweden to face questioning in a sexual assault case. That matter has since been dropped, but Wikileaks is facing a federal grand jury investigation over its publication of American diplomatic and military secrets during the Iraq War.
British police made the announcement of Assange’s arrest moments after Ecuador decided to withdraw asylum. Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s attorney, said in a tweet Assange was arrested on an extradition request from the U.S. as well as on charges of breaching his bail conditions.
Assange “has been arrested not just for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a US extradition request,” Robinson tweeted.
The U.S. Justice Department revealed the existence of a sealed criminal case against Assange in a court filing last year. It wasn’t clear what he was accused of.
“We are aware of the reports that Julian Assange was taken into custody by United Kingdom authorities,” Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi said.
The arrest drew fierce reaction from people around the world, including WikiLeaks, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Edward Snowden and even Pamela Anderson.
WikiLeaks in a tweet accused Ecuador of “illegally” terminating Assange’s political asylum and accused the country of violating international law.
“This man is a son, a father, a brother. He has won dozens of journalism awards. He's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison him,” WikiLeaks wrote.
This man is a son, a father, a brother. He has won dozens of journalism awards. He's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison him. #ProtectJulian
Images of Ecuador's ambassador inviting the UK's secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of--like it or not--award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books. Assange's critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom.
Anderson, who previously described her “romantic” relationship with Assange to Fox News last year, blasted Britain and the U.S. in a series of tweets.
“I am in shock,” Anderson wrote. “I couldn’t hear clearly what he said? He looks very bad. How could you [Ecuador]? (Because he exposed you).How could you UK. ? Of course - you are America’s b---h and you need a diversion from your idiotic Brexit b------t.”
She added: “And the USA? This toxic coward of a President. He needs to rally his base? - You are selfish and cruel. You have taken the entire world backwards. You are devils and liars and thieves. And you will ROTT And WE WILL RISE.”
Hunt thanked the Ecuadorean government for cooperating with the arrest.
“Julian Assange is no hero and no one is above the law. He has hidden from the truth for years," Hunt tweeted. "Thank you Ecuador and President @Lenin Moreno for your cooperation with @foreignoffice to ensure Assange faces justice.”
Julian Assange is no hero and no one is above the law. He has hidden from the truth for years. Thank you Ecuador and President @Lenin Moreno for your cooperation with @foreignoffice to ensure Assange faces justice
He argued that the Obama administration was pushing the narrative of Russia meddling in the U.S. election to delegitimize then-President-elect Donald Trump. He also claimed he wasn’t the source for the hacked emails he released from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.