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How the Julian Assange saga unfolded: From asylum to arrest

Julian Assange arrives for a court hearing in London. Credit: PA

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 47, was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy on Thursday and cut a very different figure to the whistle-blower who sought asylum there in June 2012.

Below is a timeline of the key dates in the drama that subsequently unfolded over the last seven years.

Julian Assange had been in the embassy for seven years. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

2010: Assange makes headlines after his WikiLeaks website releases some 470,000 classified military documents about American diplomacy and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It later released a further tranche of more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.

November 2010: Swedish prosecutor issues a European arrest warrant for Assange over sexual assault allegations involving two Swedish women. Assange denies the claims, saying the young women consented.

December 2010: Assange turns himself in to police in London and is placed in custody pending a ruling on the Swedish extradition request. He is later released on bail and calls the Swedish allegations a smear campaign.

February 2011: British judge Howard Riddle rules that Assange should be extradited to Sweden and denies this would breach his human rights.

Assange vows to fight the decision fearing Sweden will hand him over to US authorities who could prosecute him for publishing the documents.

November 2011: Assange loses a High Court appeal against the decision to extradite him.

Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in August 2012. Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA

May 2012: The UK Supreme Court upholds the High Court decision, ruling that extradition is lawful and can go ahead.

June 2012: Assange enters the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He requests and is later granted political asylum. Scotland Yard confirms he will be subject to arrest for breaching his bail conditions.

August 2012: Assange makes his first public appearance in two months on the Ecuadorian embassy's balcony. He calls for the US government to "renounce its witch-hunt" against WikiLeaks.

December 2012: Assange makes a rare appearance on the embassy's balcony to say the "door is open" for talks to break the deadlock over his campaign to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Julian Assange arriving at Westminster Magistrates' Court following his arrest. Credit: PA

July 2014: Assange loses a legal bid to have an arrest warrant issued in Sweden against him cancelled.

A judge in Stockholm upholds the warrant against him for alleged sexual offences against two women.

December 2014: Assange appears on the embassy's balcony to greet Noam Chomsky, the US philosopher and activist. Hollywood actor John Cusack also visits the WikiLeaks founder later in the month.

August 13 2015: Swedish prosecutors drop investigations into some of the sex allegations against Assange due to time restrictions. The investigation into suspected rape remains active.

August 16 2015: Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said Ecuador's decision to harbour Assange in its embassy had prevented the proper course of justice.

He said the UK continued to have a legal obligation to extradite him to Sweden, where he remained suspected of a sexual offence.

October 12 2015: Metropolitan Police end their 24-hour guard outside the Ecuadorian Embassy. It breaks a three-year police operation which is estimated to have cost more than £12 million.

Julian Assange with American writer Noam Chomsky. Credit: Yui Mok/PA

February 2016: The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention says Assange is being "arbitrarily detained" in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and calls on authorities to end his "deprivation of liberty".

The report is branded "frankly ridiculous" by then foreign secretary Philip Hammond - a response which Assange described as "insulting".

March 25 2016: A Swedish court refuses to drop an arrest warrant against Assange.

Dame Vivienne Westwood is among his celebrity supporters. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

January 17 2017: US president Barack Obama's decision to free whistleblower Chelsea Manning, a former US soldier who leaked material to WikiLeaks, prompts speculation Assange will end his self-imposed exile.

May 19 2017: An investigation into a sex allegation against Assange is suddenly dropped by Sweden's Director of Public Prosecution.

Oscar-winning documentary film-maMichael Moore meeting Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy. Credit: Julian Assange/WikiLeaks/PA

January 11 2018: The UK Foreign Office turns down a request from the Ecuadorian government to grant Assange diplomatic status.

Ecuador confirms it has granted citizenship to Assange in December after he made a request in September.

February 6 2018: Westminster Magistrates' Court says that the UK arrest warrant is still valid.

February 7 2018: Visits to Assange from Pamela Anderson and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel are reported.

March 28 2018: The Ecuadorian Embassy suspends Assange's internet access. The Ecuador Government says: "The measure was adopted due to Assange not complying with a written promise which he made with the government in late 2017, by which he was obliged not to send messages which entailed interference in relation to other states."

Supporters, including actress Pamela Anderson, musician Brian Eno, fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood and former Greek minister Yanis Varoufaki, urge Ecuador to reverse the ban.

Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer representing Assange, addresses the media outside Westminster Magistrates' court. Credit: PA

April 5 2019: WikiLeaks tweets that a high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told them Assange will be expelled from the embassy within "hours or days".

April 11: Assange is arrested after the Ecuadorian government withdraws his asylum, blaming his "repeated violations" of "international conventions and daily-life protocols".