WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was on Thursday served with an extradition notice by the Metropolitan Police, marking the first step in deporting him to Sweden where he faces allegations of sexual assault brought by two women.
The notice was delivered to him at the Ecuadorian embassy where he sought political asylum last week after Britain’s Supreme Court dismissed his final appeal against extradition.
It requires him to report to a police station “at a time of our choosing”.
Scotland Yard said the move was “standard procedure in extradition cases and is the first step in the removal process”. “He remains in breach of his bail conditions and failure to surrender would be a further breach of those conditions and he is liable to arrest,” it said.
Police, who cannot enter the embassy as it is technically Ecuadorean territory, said Mr. Assange would be arrested the moment he stepped out for breaking his bail conditions which required him to stay at a designated address — a friend’s house outside London.
Ecuador has said it is considering Mr. Assange’s request but a decision is likely to take longer as it wants to consult other countries involved in the case. Its President, Rafael Correa, said his government would take into account Mr. Assange’s fears that if extradited to Sweden he might be handed over to American authorities who planned to prosecute him for his role in leaking confidential documents.
Mr. Assange has said he sought asylum because his own country, Australia, had effectively “abandoned” him.
“We had heard that the Ecuadoreans were sympathetic in relation to my struggles and the struggles of the organisation (WikiLeaks) with the United States,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio.
His decision has surprised his friends who stood surety for his £240,000 bail and now stand to lose their money.