Julian Assange news live: updates as WikiLeaks founder ‘set to be released within hours’
A “high level source”, quoted by WikiLeaks, revealed the Australian could leave the central London embassy as early as Friday morning.
He has been in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012 after he sought refuge after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations.
The case was dropped by Sweden in 2017, but the 47-year-old remains in the embassy.
A member of staff inside the six-storey building declined to speak about the claims when asked over the intercom shortly before 7.30am.
Follow our blog for live updates below
20 hours ago
What’s been said so far? Earlier,
WikiLeaks tweeted: “BREAKING: A high level source within the Ecuadorian
state has told WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within
“hours to days”using the #INAPapers offshore scandal as a pretext-and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest.”
Another tweet said it had received a secondary confirmation from another high-level source.
20 hours ago Despite WikiLeak’s tweets this morning, a senior Ecuadorian official said no decision had been made to expel Julian Assange from the embassy. Ecuador’s foreign ministry released a statement saying it “doesn’t comment on rumours, theories or conjectures that don’t have any documented backing”.
20 hours ago The scene outside of the embassy After news broke, journalists and photographers scrambled to outside of the central London embassy. The pavement opposite was lined with more than 20 members of the world’s media, many with TV cameras. A small group of protesters have also gathered, in support of Mr Assange.
20 hours ago
Mr O’ Reilly, pictured below, said he has been sleeping rough outside the building for 130 days. The
59-year-old, who has set up a makeshift shelter in a street beside the
embassy, said he believes reports Mr Assange will be expelled, adding
Ecuador “wants to deliver the head of Julian Assange”. He said he expects more supporters to arrive.
19 hours ago
A timeline of all the key dates so far Mr
Assange came under intense scrutiny after the whistle-blowing website
began releasing hundreds of thousands classified US diplomatic cables.
Here is a timeline of the key dates in his case.
August: An arrest warrant is issued for Mr Assange for two separate allegations – one of rape and one of molestation – after he visits Sweden for a speaking trip. He is questioned by police in Stockholm and denies the allegations.
November: Stockholm District Court approves a request to detain the WikiLeaks founder for questioning on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. An international arrest warrant is issued by Swedish police through Interpol.
December: Mr Assange presents himself to London police and appears at an extradition hearing where he is remanded in custody. At a later hearing, he is granted conditional bail but is kept behind bars after Swedish authorities challenge the decision.
Mr Assange is granted conditional bail at the High Court in London after his supporters pay £240,000 in cash and sureties.
February: District Judge Howard Riddle rules that Mr Assange should be extradited to Sweden and denies this would breach his human rights. Mr Assange vows to fight the decision.
November: Mr Assange loses a High Court appeal against the decision to extradite him.
May: The UK Supreme Court upholds the High Court decision in the case, ruling that extradition is lawful and can go ahead. The Supreme Court later rejects a move by Mr Assange to reopen his appeal against his extradition, saying it is “without merit”.
June 19: Mr Assange enters the Ecuadorian embassy in London, requesting political asylum. A day later, Scotland Yard confirms he will be subject to arrest for breaching his bail conditions.
August 16: Mr Assange is granted political asylum by Ecuador.
August 19: Mr Assange makes his first public appearance in two months on the Ecuadorian embassy’s balcony and calls for the US government to “renounce its witch-hunt” against WikiLeaks.
November: Ecuador’s ambassador to the UK, Ana Alban, says Mr Assange is suffering a chronic lung condition after spending months inside a one-room office at the embassy. The Ecuadorian government later plays down the health fears and says Mr Assange “does not have an urgent medical condition”.
December: Mr Assange marks the six-month anniversary inside the embassy by making a rare public appearance on balcony to say the “door is open” for talks to break the deadlock over his campaign to avoid extradition to Sweden.
June: Mr Assange tells a group of journalists he will not leave the embassy even if sex charges against him are dropped, because he fears moves are already under way to extradite him to the United States.
July: Mr Assange loses a legal bid to have an arrest warrant issued in Sweden against him cancelled. A judge in Stockholm decided to uphold the warrant against him for alleged sexual offences against two women.
August: Mr Assange tells a press conference he will be leaving the embassy soon following speculation that he is seeking hospital treatment for heart and lung problems. He later brushes off reports that he is about to give up his fight against extradition to Sweden. November: Mr Assange loses a legal move in a Swedish appeal court aimed at revoking his arrest warrant. December: Mr 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.
March: Swedish prosecutors ask to question Mr Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. June: Mr Assange claims the Swedish prosecutor has cancelled an appointment to interview him at the embassy. August 13: Swedish prosecutors drop investigations into some of the sex allegations against Mr Assange due to time restrictions. The investigation into suspected rape remains active. August 16: Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said Ecuador’s decision to harbour Mr 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: 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. – 2016
February 5: The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention says Mr 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 Mr Assange described as “insulting”.
February 9: Swedish prosecutors say they are working on a renewed request to interview Mr Assange at the embassy.
February 22: Lawyers for Mr Assange submit papers to a Swedish court, asking for his arrest warrant to be overturned.
March 24: The Government formally asks a UN Working Group to review its finding that Mr Assange was subject to arbitrary detention, saying the opinion was “deeply flawed”.
March 25: A Swedish court refuses to drop an arrest warrant against Mr Assange.
June 20: Ecuador reveals it has received a formal request from the Swedish authorities to interview Mr Assange.
August 9: Mr Assange files an appeal at Sweden’s Court of Appeal of Svea, arguing the country must comply with the UN working group’s findings that his deprivation of liberty was unlawful.
August 11: Ecuador announces that Mr Assange will be questioned by Swedish prosecutors in the embassy in London.
September 16: Sweden’s Court of Appeal rejects a bid by Mr Assange to have his sex assault warrant dropped, saying no new information has emerged.
November 14: Mr Assange is questioned over the sex allegation at the Ecuadorian Embassy in the presence of Sweden’s assistant prosecutor Ingrid Isgren and police inspector Cecilia Redell. The interview spans two days.
November 30: The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention rejects a request by the UK Government to review the case of Mr Assange.
January 17: Barack Obama’s decision to free whistleblower Chelsea Manning prompts speculation Mr Assange will end his self-imposed exile. WikiLeaks tweeted prior to the decision: “If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ (Department of Justice) case.”
January 19: Mr Assange tells a press conference that he stands by his offer to go to the US, provided his rights are respected.
March 9: Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage is spotted leaving the embassy where Mr Assange is being held.
April 21: America’s attorney general Jeff Sessions says Mr Assange’s arrest is a “priority” for the United States.
May 19: An investigation into a sex allegation against Mr Assange is suddenly dropped by Sweden’s Director of Public Prosecution.
June 16: Mr Assange calls off a pre-planned speech from the embassy balcony to mark the fifth anniversary of his arrival there, following news of an “imminent meeting” with British authorities.
January 11: The UK Foreign Office turns down a request from the Ecuadorian government to grant Mr Assange diplomatic status.
Ecuador confirms it has granted citizenship to Mr Assange in December after he made a request in September.
January 26: Lawyers for Mr Assange tell a court the UK arrest warrant against him has “lost its purpose and its function”.
February 6: Westminster Magistrates’ Court says that the UK arrest warrant is still valid. Mr Assange vows to continue his legal fight. He later claims a package containing a “threat” and white substance was sent to him at the Ecuadorian Embassy.
February 7: Visits to Mr Assange from Pamela Anderson and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel are reported.
February 13: Westminster Magistrates’ Court upholds the warrant for the arrest of Mr Assange for skipping bail, in a judgment by Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot. She urges him to show the “courage” to appear in court.
March 28: The Ecuadorian Embassy suspends Mr 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.
June 7: Mr Assange receives a visit from officials from the Australian High Commission.
June 19: Vigils in several countries mark six years since Mr Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy.
July 30: Dame Vivienne Westwood designs a new T-shirt in support of the WikiLeaks founder, with a slogan which reads: “I fought the law”.
August 9: The United States Senate committee asks to interview Mr Assange as part of their investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
September 27: Mr Assange steps down as editor of WikiLeaks.
October 19: Mr Assange reveals he is to launch legal action against the government of Ecuador, accusing it of violating his “fundamental rights and freedoms”.
November 16: The US Department of Justice inadvertently names Mr Assange in a court document which suggests the WikiLeaks founder may have been charged in secret.
December 20: Mr Assange’s father calls for the end to his son’s “torment”, following a visit to the embassy.
January 10: A legal defence fund is launched for Mr Assange amid fears that the WikiLeaks founder is under “increasingly serious threat”.
The Courage Foundation, which offers legal support for whistleblowers and journalists, said Mr Assange had become “isolated” inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, with “severe restrictions” on his communications and visitors.
January 23: Lawyers for Mr Assange say they are taking action aimed at making President Donald Trump’s administration reveal charges “secretly filed” against the WikiLeaks founder.
April 5: WikiLeaks tweets that a high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told them Mr Assange will be expelled from the embassy within “hours or days”.
19 hours ago Pamela Anderson has weighed into the news 19 hours ago A van has arrived at the Ecuadorian Embassy bearing a billboard in support of Mr Assange, and 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 Assange. 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 Assange will be expelled.
“We’re going to be staying here until we see what’s going on,” he said.
A picture on the billboard showed Mr Assange gagged by an American flag with the message #FreeSpeech. 19 hours ago The van with the billboard in support of Mr Assange has now been moved. It was moved after an armed police officer told the organiser of the demonstration they had received a call from the embassy.
17 hours ago
Demonstrators, including one wearing a
mask used by the Anonymous group, unfurled a banner in support of
Mr Assange outside the Ecuadorian Embassy.
The banner said: “The truth will set you free! Free Julian Assange!”
Three people, including the masked supporter, held the banner as they posed for photographs in front of a large gathering of media crews. 17 hours ago Photos from the scene Several people, including a huge media crowd, have now gathered outside of the embassy. Many officers have also been pictured.
17 hours ago Speaking from outside of the embassy, supporter Emmy Butlin said she has been demonstrating since Mr Assange was fist granted refuge. She was part of a “solidarity vigil” today. She said Ecuador has changed its position since a change of government, adding: “They have now become unwilling to protect Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks.
“It’s very clear that the negotiations of various parties – the United States with Ecuador and with the UK – to hand in this man to be tried and charged in America for espionage is well under way.
“We believe that the UK Government, which is our
government, should stop cooperating with the United States, the Trump
administration. They should stand by free speech, by human rights and by
15 hours ago
Channel Four reporter Symeon Brown has claimed there is “more press” outside of the embassy than supporters of Mr Assange’s
15 hours ago
A statement from Mr Assange’s legal team has came in. It
reads: “Expelling Julian Assange would be illegal, violate
international refugee law and be an attack on the UN which has
repeatedly called for Assange 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.” 12 hours ago A UK Foreign Office spokesman has said: “We do not comment on speculation. This is a matter for the government of Ecuador.
“Julian Assange is in the embassy of his own choice and has always been free to leave.” 11 hours ago We are pausing our live coverage for now. Stay up to date on standard.co.uk