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    Sudden Assange Arrest Made to Avoid Mystery ‘Panic Button’ Use - Ecuadorian FM

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    WikiLeaks Founder Assange Arrested in London as Ecuador Withdraws Political Asylum (84)
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    When Julian Assange learned of his imminent arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London Thursday, he wasn’t even allowed to go back to his room, because authorities feared he would hit a reported “panic button” with potentially disastrous effects, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said.

    The WikiLeaks founder's arrest Thursday was sudden: immediately after being told of his arrest, British police stormed the Kensington district embassy building and grabbed him, having been warned by Ecuadorian authorities of threats Assange had reportedly made to Jaime Merchan, the Ecuadorian ambassador to the UK: that he would hit a "panic button" that would bring "devastating consequences" to the embassy if he felt threatened or feared arrest.

    The details were revealed during remarks by Valencia to the press on Thursday. It's unclear whether the button was literal or metaphorical, or what kind of threat it posed to the embassy.

    Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno made the decision to revoke the Australian journalist's political asylum, which he'd enjoyed since June 2012, when he sought refuge in the embassy after skipping bail. At the time, Assange was wanted for questioning in connection to a sexual assault investigation in Sweden, where he lived, but Assange feared that once in custody, he might be extradited to the United States, where the US Justice Department had reportedly investigated him and even allegedly had a sealed indictment for him, although that specific detail has never been proven.

    However, following Thursday's arrest by British police for skipping bail, the US Department of Justice revealed its own charges against him and has sought his extradition, which could follow a May hearing. Assange is charged with conspiracy to help former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning break into a computer and steal classified documents and could face five years in prison. WikiLeaks published many of the documents Manning delivered in 2010, including the "Cablegate" diplomatic communications and "Collateral Murder" video, the latter of which showed US soldiers committing war crimes in Iraq.

    Moreno said Thursday that Assange was a "spoiled brat." He had previously fumed about Assange's alleged involvement in leaking documents connecting Moreno and figures in his family and government to various corruption schemes. Assange and WikiLeaks have denied having any involvement in the leak.

    Topic:
    WikiLeaks Founder Assange Arrested in London as Ecuador Withdraws Political Asylum (84)

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    Tags:
    sudden, arrest, warning, pressing the button, panic, Ecuadorian Embassy, Julian Assange, London
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