World·Timeline

Julian Assange's years-long entanglement in the legal system

In 2010, a Swedish prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after an allegation of rape, setting off a series of events involving Sweden, Ecuador, Britain and the United States.

The WikiLeaks founder's cases have spawned UN reports, rulings from U.S. and U.K. courts

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to reporters after leaving Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London on Feb. 7, 2011. That month, a court ruled he should be extradited to Sweden to face charges, which ultimately did not happen. (Kerim Otken/EPA)

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested at the Embassy of Ecuador in London on Thursday — seven years after he first took refuge there.

London police arrested Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy for breaching bail conditions in 2012, as well as on behalf of U.S. authorities, shortly after Ecuador's government withdrew his asylum status.

Here are the key events in the Assange saga leading up to Thursday's developments:

  • August 2010: Swedish prosecutor issues arrest warrant for Assange based on one woman's allegation of rape and another's allegation of molestation. The warrant was withdrawn shortly after, with prosecutors citing insufficient evidence for the rape allegation. Assange denies the charges.
  • September 2010: Sweden's director of prosecutions reopens the rape investigation. Assange leaves Sweden for Britain on Sept.27.
  • November 2010: Swedish police issue an international arrest warrant for Assange.
     
  • December 2010: Assange surrenders to police in London and is detained pending an extradition hearing. High Court grants Assange bail on Dec. 16.
     
  • Feb. 24, 2011: District court in Britain rules that Assange should be extradited to Sweden.
  • Dec. 5, 2011: Assange is granted an appeal to the U.K. Supreme Court.
     
  • May 30, 2012: The Supreme Court rejects Assange's appeal.
     
  • June 2012: Assange asks the Supreme Court to reopen case; the court refuses. Assange enters the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London, seeking asylum on June 19. Police set up a round-the-clock guard to arrest him if he steps outside.
     
  • Aug. 16, 2012: Assange is granted political asylum by Ecuador.
     
  • July 2014: Assange loses his bid to have an arrest warrant issued in Sweden against him cancelled. A judge in Stockholm upholds the warrant alleging sexual offences against two women.
  • March 2015: Swedish prosecutors ask to question Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy.
  • Aug. 13, 2015: Swedish prosecutors drop investigations into some allegations against Assange because of the statute of limitations; the investigation into a rape allegation remains active.
  • Oct. 12, 2015: Metropolitan Police end their 24-hour guard outside the Ecuadorean Embassy but say they'll arrest Assange if he leaves — ending a three-year police operation estimated to have cost more than 12 million pounds ($21 million).
  • Feb. 5, 2016: Assange claims "total vindication" as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention finds that he has been unlawfully detained and recommends he be immediately freed and given compensation. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond calls the finding "frankly ridiculous."
  • April 6, 2017: Ecuador's president-elect, Lenin Moreno, warns Assange that as a condition of asylum granted in 2012, he is not allowed to meddle in politics, following comments on Twitter.
  • May 19, 2017: Swedish prosecutors drop their investigation of the rape allegation against Assange, and the European arrest warrant is withdrawn because there is no prospect of bringing Assange to Sweden. British police say he is still wanted for jumping bail in 2012.
  • September 2018: Ecuador's president says his country and Britain are working on a legal solution to allow Assange to leave the embassy in "the medium term."
  • October 2018: Assange seeks a court injunction pressing Ecuador to provide him basic rights which he said the country agreed to when it first granted him asylum.
  • November 2018: A U.S. court filing that appears to inadvertently reveal the existence of a sealed criminal case against Assange is discovered by a researcher. No details are confirmed.
  • April 2, 2019: Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno blames WikiLeaks for recent allegations of corruption.
  • April 5, 2019: A senior Ecuadorian official says no decision has been made to expel Assange from the London embassy despite rumours he could be kicked out soon

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