British police are prepared to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on charges of skipping his bail if he leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and possibly extradite him to the United States where the Trump administration has prepared charges against him, according to reports.
On Friday, prosecutors in Sweden dropped their rape investigation into Assange, who sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy five years ago.
A spokesman for England’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told AFP on Friday that after Assange’s arrest his case would be referred to a judge and he could face a maximum one year prison term in the UK.
According to The Guardian, police cars are parked near the Ecuadorian embassy building in Knightsbridge, London, presumably ready to arrest the WikiLeaks founder for breaching his bail, which the Metropolitan Police Force has claimed he is still wanted for.
Dozens of media persons are waiting outside the embassy but there has been no sign of Assange emerging from the building yet, reports said.
Britain ‘must grant safe passage to Assange’
Meanwhile, Ecuador’s foreign minister called on Britain on Friday to “grant safe passage” out of the country to Assange.
“The European Arrest Warrant no longer holds. The UK must now grant safe passage to Mr Julian Assange,” Guillaume Long wrote on Twitter, shortly after Swedish prosecutors announced they had dropped their rape probe against the WikiLeaks founder.
Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in London in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden after Swedish prosecutors issued a European arrest warrant against him.
The Australian has denied the rape accusations, and says the claims are part of an attempt to ultimately have him extradited to the United States, where he could be charged over WikiLeaks’ release of 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
British police said an arrest warrant was issued against Assange in 2012. “The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy.”
Possible extradition to the US
The police spokesman said he did not know whether Britain had received an extradition request from the United States.
“The UK government’s policy is to neither confirm nor deny any request for extradition until and unless an arrest is made,” he said.
The head of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has called WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” accusing its chief of helping the enemies of the US.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo on April 13 accused Pompeo WikiLeaks of overwhelmingly focused on the US and encouraging its followers to join the CIA with the sole purpose of obtaining intelligence.
He said WikiLeaks under the leadership of Assange “directed Chelsea Manning to intercept specific secret information, and it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States.”
American whistleblower and former US Army soldier Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) was released from prison on Wednesday after serving seven years for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
US prepares charges to seek Assange’s arrest
The Trump administration has reportedly prepared charges against Assange in an attempt to arrest him.
Since 2010, US prosecutors have struggled with whether the First Amendment of the US Constitution prohibited the prosecution of Assange.
However, now they believe they have found a way to arrest the man who published thousands of files taken away by Manning, the former US Army intelligence analyst.
In an interview with RT on Tuesday, Assange described the CIA as “dangerously incompetent.”
“The CIA is the world’s most dangerously incompetent spy agency. It has armed terrorists, destroyed democracies and installed and maintained dictatorships the world over,” Assange said.