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WikiLeaks' Julian Assange won't be given 'special treatment,' Australian prime minister says

Key Points
  • WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, who's accused of one of the largest leaks of classified information in the U.S., was arrested and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday, where he had been living for nearly seven years after seeking asylum there.
  • "Mr Assange will get the same support that any other Australian would ... he's not going to be given any special treatment," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told national broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  • Assange now faces potential extradition to the U.S., and a criminal charge by the U.S. Justice Department accusing him of conspiracy to hack into a classified government computer.
Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court on April 11, 2019 in London, England.
Jack Taylor | Getty Images

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was arrested in London Thursday, will not be given any "special treatment," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Speaking to the national broadcaster on Friday, Morrison said Assange, an Australian citizen, "will get the same treatment as everybody else."

Assange, who's accused of one of the largest leaks of classified information in the U.S., was arrested and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday, where he had been living for nearly seven years after seeking asylum there.

He now faces potential extradition to the U.S., which has put in a request for him. The Justice Department announced a criminal charge against Assange, accusing him of conspiring with former American army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning, to hack into a classified U.S. government computer.

"When Australians travel overseas and they find themselves in difficulties with the law, well, they face the judicial systems of those countries, it doesn't matter what particular crime it is they've alleged to have committed. That's the way the system works," Morrison told ABC.

"Mr Assange will get the same support that any other Australian would ... he's not going to be given any special treatment," he said.

WikiLeaks, set up in 2006, became renowned for publishing secret information and news leaks that have caused embarrassment for governments and public officials around the world.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has claimed asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on accusations of rape.
Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Assange's attorney confirmed Thursday that the 47-year-old was arrested on a U.S. extradition request as well as for breaching U.K. bail conditions, The Associated Press reported.

His attorney, Jennifer Robinson, said that the Australian government should do more to support Assange, according to a report by Australian broadcaster SBS News.

"It is time for the Australian government to step up and do what it should have done in 2010 when we asked them to do the first time, which is to reach out to the United States, our ally and ask this prosecution be closed," she said, according to SBS.

"This is a matter of free speech. It is an Australian citizen who faces years, potentially decades or life in prison for having published material that the Walkley Awards gave him the most outstanding contribution to Australian journalism for," said Robinson.

Assange sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault and rape.

He consistently denied the allegations and surrendered to British police the following month and was released on bail. However, he then evaded police and fled, leading to a second warrant that was the basis for his arrest Thursday.

— CNBC's Spriha Srivastava contributed to this report.