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Edward Snowden: Julian Assange Arrest is 'a Dark Moment for Press Freedom'

Former CIA analyst-turned-whistleblower speaks out on WikiLeaks founder's arrest

 on 12th April 2019 @ 12.00pm
edward snowden describes the arrest of wikileaks founder julian assange as  a dark moment for press freedom © press
Edward Snowden describes the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as 'a dark moment for press freedom'

Infamous former CIA analyst-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden has spoken out the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, describing it as "a dark moment for press freedom."

Assange was arrested by police in London on Thursday morning, with dramatic scenes showing the 47-year-old journalist being carried out of the Ecuadorian Embassy by arresting officers.

Seven years after he first entered the embassy, Ecuador dramatically withdrew his political asylum before handing him over to British authorities.

Shortly after Assange's arrest, Snowden tweeted: "Images of Ecuador's ambassador inviting the UK's secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of-like it or not-award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books.

"Assange's critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom."

julian assange was dragged from the ecuadorian embassy during a dramatic arrest by uk police © press
Julian Assange was dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy during a dramatic arrest by UK police

According to the Daily Mail, Snowden is currently living in exile Russia having fled the US after leaking a huge cache of declassified documents back in 2013.

The Former CIA agent has been a longstanding supporter of Assange's cause having allegedly been helped by the Wikileaks founder in handing over the secret documents to journalists.

Assange, who has overseen the publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks, is currently in custody and appeared before Westminster Magistrates' Court late on Thursday.

He was filmed being dragged kicking and screaming from the embassy building in Knightsbridge sporting a scruffy beard and unkempt hair. 

He has not left Ecuador's diplomatic soil since 2012 when the country offered diplomatic protection from allegations of sexual assault in Sweden. 

While the case was eventually dropped, Assange has always feared extradition to the US, where his lawyers have claimed he could face the death penalty for the leaking of highly-classified documents.

In a statement Thursday, Ecuador's president added that he had asked Britain to guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to any country where he could face torture or the death penalty.

The news of his arrest was immediately confirmed by UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Twitter, who said that "no one was above the law."

julian assange appeared appeared before westminster magistrates  court late on thursday © press
Julian Assange appeared appeared before Westminster Magistrates' Court late on Thursday

What happened in court?

According to the BBC, after his arrest, the 47-year-old Australian national was initially taken to a central London police station before appearing in court.

Dressed in a black suit and black polo shirt, he waved to the public gallery and gave a thumbs up.

He pleaded not guilty to the 2012 charge of failing to surrender to the court.

Finding him guilty of that charge, District Judge Michael Snow said Assange's behavior was "the behavior of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest."

He sent him to Southwark Crown Court for sentencing, where he faces up to 12 months in prison.

The court also heard that during his arrest at the embassy he had to be restrained and shouted: "This is unlawful, I am not leaving."

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