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Assange faces bail breach arrest
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces arrest after breaching his bail conditions when he applied for political asylum at Ecuadorian Embassy on Tuesday night.
The 40-year-old Australian is inside the building in Knightsbridge, London, having gone there on Tuesday afternoon to request asylum under the United Nations Human Rights Declaration. A statement issued on behalf of the Ecuadorian Embassy said Mr Assange would remain there while his request was considered.
The move followed his failed bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed on Wednesday that Assange is subject to arrest after breaching one of the bail conditions imposed on him by the High Court, which was to stay at his bail address between 10pm and 8am.
A police spokeswoman said: "At around 10.20pm on Tuesday June 19, the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) was notified that Assange had breached one of those bail conditions. He is now subject to arrest under the Bail Act for breach of these conditions. Officers are aware of his location at the Ecuador Embassy in Hans Crescent, London."
Mr Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he faces accusations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August 2010 while on a visit to give a lecture. Mr Assange, whose WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, says the sex was consensual and the allegations against him are politically motivated.
Last month the Supreme Court upheld a High Court ruling that his extradition was legal. Last week the same court refused an attempt by him to reopen his appeal against extradition, saying it was "without merit". He had until June 28 to ask European judges in Strasbourg to consider his case and postpone extradition on the basis that he has not had a fair hearing from the UK courts.
The computer expert, who is on £200,000 bail, has attracted several high-profile supporters including film director Ken Loach and socialite and charity fundraiser Jemima Khan, who each offered £20,000 as surety. However, Bianca Jagger wrote on Twitter: "I would like to set the record straight. I didn't post bail for Julian Assange."
Shortly after midday, a small group of protesters arrived at the embassy in Knightsbridge, waving placards that read "Free Assange, No Rendition" and "Free Assange, No Extradition", and a large sign reading: "Free Assange! Free Manning! End The Wars."
Gavin Macfadyen, from the Centre for Investigative Journalism at City University, who emerged from the embassy at around 12.30pm, said of Mr Assange: "He is fine, he is in very good humour and grateful for the hospitality of the embassy. He is meeting with the lawyers now to discuss all of it. It's a very fluid situation, he is in good humour and the generosity of the embassy is impressive and moving."