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  1. ITV Report

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange faces 12 months in jail and possible extradition to US

Julian Assange could face 12-months in jail and possibly be extradited to the US after he was arrested and forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London - nearly seven years after he sought refuge there.

The Wikileaks founder was found guilty of breaching his bail at Westminster Magistrates' Court today and faces up to a year behind bars.

But the 47-year-old could face up to five years if extradited to the US, where authorities claim he conspired with former US military analyst Chelsea Manning to hack into classified US government records.

The US State Department claim Assange helped Ms Manning crack a password to gain entry to secure a computer network and download material to share with Wikileaks.

His arrest has stirred a mixed reaction from famous figures around the world from politicians like Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump to his famous supporters including Pamela Anderson and Vivienne Westwood.

Julian Assange had been inside the embassy for almost seven years. Credit: PA

He later appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court where he pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to surrender to custody as required for an extradition order to Sweden, where he was wanted on one charge of rape and another of molestation.

In court, district Judge Michael Snow described Assange's behaviour as that of a "narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest".

During today's hearing, the court heard Assange shouted "This is unlawful, I am not leaving" as he was restrained and arrested.

He is to appear before Southwark Crown Court for sentencing.

Assange's lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said they would fight against the extradition request, and that it set a "dangerous precedent" for any journalist "publishing truthful information about the United States".

Ms Robinson said she had visited Assange in the police cells and he thanked his reporters and said to her: "I told you so."

Wikileaks' editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said his arrest should serve as a warning to those worried about press freedom.

"If they will extradite a journalist to the US then no journalist will be safe. This must stop. This must end," he said.

He had predicted if he were to leave the embassy that he would be subject to an extradition request from the US.

Scotland Yard said Assange was held for failing to appear in court in June 2012 and was then further arrested on behalf of US authorities.

Meanwhile the US Department of Justice explained the hacking charge relates to Assange's alleged role in "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States".

Julian Assange arrives at court for his hearing. Credit: PA

Addressing the Commons, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said extradition papers must be received by the judge within 65 days of arrest and the request must be certified by the Home Office before being submitted to the court.

He said he would not comment further on the details of the accusations against Assange in the UK or the US but added: "I am pleased that the situation in the Ecuadorian embassy has finally been brought to an end."

Officers were invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government's withdrawal of asylum.

Assange was carried out of the embassy into a waiting police van. He appeared to be clutching a copy of Gore Vidal's 'History of the National Security State', which he read during in court today.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "What we have shown today is that nobody is above the law - Julian Assange is no hero.

"He's hidden from the truth for years and years and it's right that his future should be decided in the British judicial system."

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: "The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British government."

Donald Trump, who had declared "I love WikiLeaks" during his 2016 campaign when the website released damaging emails concerning Hillary Clinton, said after Assange's arrest that "I know nothing really about him".

  • Donald Trump declared 'I Love Wikileaks' during his 2016 election and today he said he 'knows nothing' about Assange

Ecuador's president Lenin Moreno announced Assange's move on Twitter: "Today, I announce that the discourteous and aggressive behaviour of Mr Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declaration of its allied organisation, 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."

Mr Moreno said Ecuador's patience had run out over Assange's behaviour inside the embassy which included blocking security cameras, installing electronic equipment, mistreating guards and accessing security files.

Although Mr Moreno has said he received a written assurance from the UK Government Assange would not be extradited to a country where he could face torture or the death penalty.

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Supporters of Assange were dismayed by the arrest, with US whistleblower Edward Snowden describing his arrests as a "dark moment for press freedom".

Actress Pamela Anderson questioned his arrest, tweeting: "He looks very bad. How could you Ecuador? (Because he exposed you). How could you UK?"

Only last week, the Ecuadorian embassy denied any decision had been made over the future of Assange.

He has feared extradition to the US since Wikileaks published thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables.

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Assange feared he would be extradited to the US after Wikileaks published thousands of classified military documents. Credit: PA

Relations between Assange and Ecuador have grown increasingly prickly as the years have dragged on with no solution in sight.

He was granted asylum as he tried to avoid extradition to Sweden where he was facing a rape allegation.

Sweden’s top prosecutor later dropped the long-running inquiry against him, saying there was no way to detain or charge him because of his protected status in the embassy.

On Thursday, Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for the unnamed woman allegedly raped by Assange in 2010, said his arrest was something "we have been waiting and hoping for".

She added they would do everything to get the case reopened and Assange extradited to face prosecution.

The Ecuadorian embassy has been Assange's home since 2012. Credit: PA

Wikileaks said President Moreno had acted illegally in terminating Assange's political asylum "in violation of international law".

His arrest comes a day after Wikileaks accused the Ecuadorean Government of an "extensive spying operation" against Assange.

Wikileaks claims meetings with lawyers and a doctor inside the embassy over the past year were secretly filmed.

Assange was remanded in custody and will next appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on May 2 by prison video-link in relation to the extradition.