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Julian Assange of WikiLeaks Arrested in London; Faces U.S. Charge Related to Chelsea Manning Leaks

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London. Earlier today, British police forcibly removed Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has been living since 2012. London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement that Assange was arrested on behalf of the United States authorities.

The U.S. has charged Assange with helping Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning hack a government computer. The indictment was unsealed shortly after his arrest. We speak to Renata Ávila, a member of Assange's legal team, as well as British human rights attorney Geoffrey Robertson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald and former Justice Department attorney Jesselyn Radack.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

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NERMEEN SHAIKH: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London. Just hours ago, British police forcibly removed Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has been living since 2012. Video shows Assange saying the U.K. must resist, as he was being arrested.

JULIAN ASSANGE: The U.K. has not surrendered. ... They must resist! U.K. will resist! Resistance [inaudible] fight the Trump administration!

NERMEEN SHAIKH: London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement that Assange was, quote, "arrested on behalf of the United States authorities." WikiLeaks reported via Twitter that British police entered the embassy at the invitation of the Ecuadorean ambassador, and says that Ecuador terminated his political asylum in violation of international law. Ecuador quickly denied the claim of an imminent expulsion, accusing WikiLeaks of, quote, "an attempt to stain the dignity of the country."

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Julian Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in 2012, fearing possible extradition by British authorities to the U.S., where he could face prosecution under the Espionage Act. One of Assange's attorneys, Jennifer Robinson, tweeted this morning, quote, "Just confirmed: #Assange has been arrested not just for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a US extradition request," she wrote. Press freedom advocates condemned Assange's arrest

AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange's U.S. attorney, Barry Pollack, said, quote, "It is bitterly disappointing that a country would allow someone to whom it has extended citizenship and asylum to be arrested in its embassy. First and foremost, we hope that the UK will now give Mr. Assange access to proper health care, which he has been denied for seven years. Once his health care needs have been addressed, the UK courts will need to resolve what appears to be an unprecedented effort by the United States seeking to extradite a foreign journalist to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information," Barry Pollack wrote. That's Julian Assange's U.S. attorney.

Christophe Deloire, the head of Reporters Without Borders, tweeted, "Targeting Assange because of Wikileaks' provision of information to journalists that was in the public interest would be a punitive measure and would set a dangerous precedent for journalists or their sources that the US may wish to pursue in future," unquote.

NSA whistleblower Edward 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." That is the tweet of Edward Snowden.

We begin today's show with Renata Ávila, a member of Julian Assange's legal team.

Renata, thank you so much for joining us. This has just taken place, the arrest, the dragging out of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy by the Metropolitan Police in Britain. Can you tell us what you understand are the grounds for his arrest and why the Ecuadorean Embassy allowed the British police into the embassy to do it?

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RENATA ÁVILA: Well, thank you for having me, Amy, and thank you for all the solidarity that you're showing as a journalist. Unlike you, I'm outraged, like on top of all of this going on, I have seen the lack of class solidarity from journalists all over the world, and that is making the situation worse.

First, the arrest, it breaches international law at so many levels. And as a Latin American, I can say that I'm ashamed of this blatant disregard for the most -- one of the -- which is a tradition of Latin America of providing and defending the institution of asylum. What happened next, it is what we suspected since Michael Ratner was leading the defense of Julian Assange back in 2010, that this was what we predicted, and it happened as we predicted it.

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