Julian Assange has been in the embassy in central London since mid-2012 after seeking refuge following a British judge ruling he should be extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations. The allegations were dropped in 2017, but Mr Assange remained in the embassy, fearing extradition to the US to face charges over WikiLeaks’ release of sensitive government documents. A Met Police warrant is also still in force after he absconded after being released on bail in 2010, so he is likely to be arrested as soon as he exits the embassy.
What we know so far:
‣ The news of Mr Assange’s expulsion came late on Thursday in a Wikileak’s tweet, which claimed a senior source in Euador’s state department has said Mr Assange would be expelled in “hours to days”.
‣ WikiLeaks said the move was an attempt by Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno to cover up activities related to his use of an offshore tax haven created by his brother, known as the INA Papers.
‣ Earlier this week, news broke of Mr Moreno’s apparent waning tolerance of Mr Assange, claiming he has “repeatedly violated” the conditions of his asylum.
‣ A top Ecuadorian official denied WikiLeaks’ claim and said no decision had been taken to expel the Australian, according to the Associated Press.
‣ Ecuador’s foreign ministry released a statement saying it “doesn’t comment on rumours, theories or conjectures that don’t have any documented backing”, but a senior Ecuadorian official said no decision had been made.
Live coverage has now ended, for more information check Express.co.uk
Julian Assange LIVE updates
5.29pm update: An Ecuador official has said President Lenin Moreno was angered by the apparent hacking of his personal communications
On Tuesday, Mr Moreno blamed WikiLeaks for recent allegations of offshore corruption that appeared in local media outlets and the publication of family photos to social media.
Mr Moreno accused WikiLeaks of intercepting phone calls and private conversations as well as “photos of my bedroom, what I eat, and how my wife and daughters and friends dance”.
He provided no evidence, and WikiLeaks has denied any involvement.
5.15pm update: Photos from the scene show supporters of Mr Assange
Photographs taken outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in south-west London show supporters holding banners saying “Free Julian Assange”
4.35pm update: London Metropolitan Police say nothing has changed in their procedure
A statement from the London Metropolitan Police on the presence of armed officers outside the Ecuadorian Embassy, a statement said there had been no change in police procedure.
Police also said there is an active warrant for Mr Assange’s arrest and that the police are “obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy.”
Julian Assange LIVE: Supporters have gathered outside the embassy in London
3.49pm update: Statement from a spokesman for Theresa May on the conspiracy
A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said: “It’s obviously a matter for the Ecuadorian government.
“You’ll know that there has been official contact between the UK government and the Ecuadorian government for a period of time now to try to seek a resolution to this. But I don’t have anything on the reports.”
Georgina Laud takes over live reporting from Kate Whitfield
3pm update: Ecuador Foreign Minister deletes three tweets as conspiracy builds
CNN reporter Ana María Cañizares revealed three tweets deleted by Ecuadorian Foreign Minister José Valencia this morning relating to the situation surrounding Julian Assange.
The deleted tweets translate to: “Wikileaks has tweeted that there is an agreement between the UK and Ecuador to arrest Assange in the next hours or days. Regarding that, the Foreign Ministry has said to local and foreign media the following:
“Rumours of Assange leaving the Embassy come from months ago. The Government will not make comments on those rumours, that have no foundation and are insulting. Ecuador takes decisions in a sovereign and independent way.
“Diplomatic asylum is a faculty of the State and we have the right to grant it or deny it unilaterally whenever we think it’s justified.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
The tweets have now been deleted
2pm update: Recap
- Julian Assange remains within the Ecuador embassy in London
- WikiLeaks believes Mr Assange will be expelled within “hours to days”
- Ecuador’s foreign ministry released a statement saying it “doesn’t comment on rumours, theories or conjectures that don’t have any documented backing”
- A senior Ecuadorian official said no decision had been made
- A large group of press and supporters continues to grow outside the embassy
1.10pm update: Pamela Anderson adds her voice in support
Actress Pamela Anderson has tweeted in support of Julian Assange.
Ms Anderson and Mr Assange are said to have become friends about three years ago when Ms Anderson, an animal rights activist, sought a meeting with him “to ask him how to be a more effective activist”.
Ms Anderson threw her support behind Mr Assange in a rambling tweet with fractured sentence-structure, including comment on the UK and Brexit.
Pamela Anderson’s tweet
1pm update: Who is Julian Assange?
Julian Assange is a 47-year-old Australian national. A computer programmer, he became famous as the editor-in-chief of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
Founded in 2006, WikiLeaks is a searchable database that publishes information, news leaks, and classified media provided by anonymous sources.
It claims to have amassed a database of 10 million documents in the 10 years since its launch.
He is being investigated over WikiLeaks’ release of sensitive US Government files
The leaks included Afghanistan and Iraq war logs, a video entitled “Collateral Murder” and CableGate.
Julian Assange in the Ecuador embassy
12.20pm update: Legal team say UK must not ‘act as accomplices to Trump’ if Assange expelled
A statement from Mr ‘s legal team said: “Expelling Julian would be illegal, violate international refugee law and be an attack on the UN which has repeatedly called for to be able to walk free.
“It will be a sad day for democracy if the UK and Ecuadorean governments are willing to act as accomplices to the Trump administration’s determination to prosecute a publisher for publishing truthful information.”
12pm update: Why might they want him out?
In October, Mr Assange had complained Ecuador was violating his “fundamental rights” and he was living in an “inhuman situation” – he took the claim to an Ecuadorian court but it was thrown out.
Mr Assange had claimed new asylum terms forcing him to pay for medical bills, laundry and phone calls and to clean up after his pet cat violate his rights and are meant to coerce him into ending his asylum.
Ecuador’s government confirmed in March last year that it blocked Mr Assange’s internet and mobile phone access because they claim he broke “a written commitment” to not interfere in the country’s foreign policies.
Officials also complained that Mr Assange has caused damage by playing football and skateboarding in the embassy building, where he takes up more than a third of the space.
11.40pm update: Ecuador and UK officials refuse to comment on extradition
Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry has refused to comment on the claims Julian Assange will be extradited.
The Metropolitan Police also declined to comment when questioned if they were aware of any extradition arrangement.
11.30pm update: Anonymous arrives
Demonstrators, including one wearing a mask used by the Anonymous group, unfurled a banner in support of Julian outside the Ecuadorian Embassy.
The banner said: “The truth will set you free! Free Julian!”
Three people, including the masked supporter, held the banner as they posed for photographs in front of a large gathering of media crews.
Julian Assange: Anonymous arrives
11.20am update: UK Foreign Secretary weighs in – ‘He can leave that embassy whenever he wants’
The UK Foreign Secretary has hit back on claims Julian Assange could be expelled imminently, according to the Guardian’s diplomatic editor.
Patrick Wintour tweeted: “Jeremy Hunt UK Foreign Secretary: ‘Julian Assange is a free man. He can leave that embassy whenever he wants. We want the situation resolved as quickly as possible. It is up to him’.”
11.10am update: Wikileaks calls for support
WikiLeaks tweeted: “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.”
The tweet was accompanied with the
10.50am update: Heavily armed police on the scene
There is still no word on whether Mr Assange is indeed due to be expelled, but a senior Ecuadorian official said no decision had been made, which is open to speculation.
Police presence outside the embassy has increased as the crowd continues to swell.
Heavily armed police on the scene
Heavily armed police on the scene
10.30am update: Why is Assange at risk of being kicked out?
According to WikiLeaks, Assange will be expelled due to the release of the INA Papers, which allege Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has been involved in “crimes of corruption, perjury and money laundering”.
President Moreno has denied the allegations against him.
According to the President himself, Julian Assange is being kicked out of the embassy due to violating the terms of his asylum.
Mr Moreno said Assange had “repeatedly violated” the terms of his asylum while at the embassy.
Speaking to the Ecuadorian radio broadcasters association on Tuesday, he said as per the agreement of his asylum, he could not “lie or, much less, hack into private accounts or private phones.”
The President also mentioned he was told not to “intervene in the politics of countries, or worse friendly countries”.
10am update: Protestors moved at request of embassy
The van fitted with a billboard in support of Julian Assange has moved after an armed police officer told the organiser of the demonstration they had received a call from the embassy.
The van was parked in a space reserved for diplomats.
The man who arranged the board and gave his name as Fethi said: “I’m here to support Julian. We just wonder if the police will take him away.”
Fethi, who briefly went into the embassy before he was escorted out by officials, said he does not believe Mr will be expelled.
“We’re going to be staying here until we see what’s going on,” he said.
Julian Assange supporters have moved after police recieved a call from the embassy
9.26pm update: Staff at embassy decline to comment
A member of staff inside the six-storey building declined to speak about the claims when asked over the intercom shortly before 7.30am.
Press and crowds continue to gather.
9.04am update: Protestors and press gather as WikiLeaks tweets second source
A crowd has begun to form outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London’s leafy Belgravia.
In the early hours of this morning, WikiLeaks tweeted: “WikiLeaks now has secondary confirmation from another high level source within the Ecuadorian state” that Mr Assange would be expelled.
Julian Assange LIVE updates: Press gathers outside the embassy
Julian Assange LIVE updates: A crowd has begun to form
9am update: The WikiLeaks tweet which broke the news:
Julian Assange LIVE updates: WikiLeaks broke the news on Thursday night