The Justice Department announced Thursday that it is charging Julian Assange, setting the stage for a historic legal showdown with the controversial founder of WikiLeaks.
The unsealing of an indictment dated more than a year ago followed a whirlwind reversal of fortune for Assange, who was ejected from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he confined himself for years, and then hauled into custody by officers of the Metropolitan Police.
Not only did Ecuador withdraw protection for Assange, according to wire service reports, but the government has also arrested a person who is allegedly close to WikiLeaks. Reuters quotes Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo as saying the person was picked up in Ecuador while trying to travel to Japan.
British authorities have received a request to extradite Assange, they said. He is expected to appear at a hearing on May 2.
Justice Department investigators have described the key role that they say Assange and WikiLeaks played in the Russian attack on the 2016 election, but the charges announced on Thursday allude to an earlier chapter in his long-running drama.
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