Julian Assange's journey from political asylum at Ecuadorian Embassy to prison: A timeline of key events in legal saga

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's seven-year hideout in Ecuador's London embassy came to an end on Thursday when British police dragged him out and arrested him based on an extradition request put across by the US.

FP Staff May 13, 2019 21:39:10 IST
Julian Assange's journey from political asylum at Ecuadorian Embassy to prison: A timeline of key events in legal saga
  • Assange had sought asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape allegation that he denied

  • Ecuador's pro-US President Lenin Moreno had been increasingly frustrated with Assange's stay

  • Ecuador had pulled its asylum and cancelled Assange's citizenship after earlier curbing his internet and mobile phone access

Editor's note: This article was originally published on 12 April, 2019. It is being updated and republished to reflect the latest development in the case.

Swedish prosecutors on Monday reopened their investigation into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who is currently in prison in London for breach of bail conditions on the charge. "I have today taken the decision to reopen the preliminary investigation,” Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Eva-Marie Persson told reporters.

The 47-year-old transparency activist's seven-year hideout in Ecuador's London embassy came to an end in April when the British police dragged him out and arrested him based on an extradition request put across by the US.

The drama came after Ecuador — under pro-US president Lenin Moreno, increasingly frustrated with Assange's stay — pulled its asylum and cancelled his citizenship after earlier curbing his internet and mobile phone access.

Assange had sought asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape allegation that he denied, and has since been dropped. His arrest is but one chapter in a story which began with WikiLeaks' first big reveal in 2007 and then underwent numerous twists and turns, spanning several countries and navigating their own sets of laws.

Julian Assanges journey from political asylum at Ecuadorian Embassy to prison A timeline of key events in legal saga

Julian Assange after his arrest on Thursday. AP

2007: 

November: WikiLeaks, founded by Assange a year ago in 2006, posts its first key secret document —  a US Army manual of standard operating procedures for soldiers overseeing Al Qaeda suspects who were held captive at Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba.

2008 to 2010: 

WikiLeaks gains notoriety for a number of prominent releases, including videos from the 2007 Baghdad airstrike which saw the death of Iraqi journalists, the official Afghan and Iraqi war diaries in which the latter recorded over a lakh deaths, US diplomatic cables and 779 secret files relating to prisoners of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

2010:

August: Assange travels to Sweden to deliver a talk. The Swedish Prosecutor's Office issues an arrest warrant and says there are two allegations: one of rape and one of molestation against Assange. The warrant is withdrawn the next day. Assange denies the charges.

September: Swedish director of prosecution Marianne Ny reopens the rape investigation.

November: Swedish police issues an international arrest warrant for Assange through Interpol. By then he has fled to London.

December: Assange surrenders to British police, is remanded in custody during the extradition hearing, after which he is given bail against a payment of £240,000 in cash and sureties by his supporters.

Julian Assanges journey from political asylum at Ecuadorian Embassy to prison A timeline of key events in legal saga

File image of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Reuters

2011: 

November-December: The High Court upholds a lower British court's claim that Assange should be extradited to Sweden. He wins the right to petition directly to the Supreme Court in this regard, reported BBC.

2012:

May: UK's Supreme Court rules that Assange should be extradited to Sweden over the rape charge.

June: Assange seeks refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

August: Ecuador grants asylum to Assange, where he seeks political asylum. UK, however, says it is legally bound to extradite Assange to Sweden and therefore cannot grant him safe passage to Ecuador.

2013 to 2014: The intervening years pass by without incident, as WikiLeaks continues releasing documents. Periodically, Assange says he is likely to leave London soon.

2015: 

August: Sweden drops investigation into allegations of molestation and unlawful coercion, leaving only the rape accusation against Assange to be investigated.

2016:

February: A United Nations committee rules that Assange;s detention has been "arbitrary".

November: Assange is questioned over the rape allegation at the Ecuadorian embassy by Swedish authorities in a two-day interview.

2017:

May: Sweden drops the investigation into Assange's rape charges.

October: CIA director Mike Pompeo says the US is "working to take down" WikiLeaks.

December: Ecuador grants Assange citizenship.

2018:

October: The Ecuadorean embassy issues Assange a set of house rules. These include cleaning his bathroom and taking better care of his cat. The WikiLeaks founder, in turn, says he will launch legal action against Ecuador for violating his rights and freedoms. It claims the government of Ecuador has refused Assange visits by lawyers.

2019:

February: Assange, who is Australian by birth, is granted a new passport by the country. This would allow him to return to Australia.

2 April: Ecuador president says Assange has "repeatedly violated" the conditions of his asylum.

10 April: Ecuador cancels his citizenship.

11 April: British police arrest Assange at the embassy, saying Ecuador had informed them that his asylum had been withdrawn. He is held for breaching his 2010 bail conditions and also on a US extradition request.

1 May: Assange is sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching bail.

2 May: The legal process for his extradition to the US starts in a London court, Assange vowing to resist.

13 May: Swedish prosecutors say they are reopening the 2010 rape investigation.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date:

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