Russia Reacts to WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange's Arrest: We Hope 'All His Rights Will Be Respected'

Russian President Vladimir Putin's official spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, responded to the Thursday arrest of Julian Assange in London after Ecuador stripped the WikiLeaks founder of asylum

"If these media reports are true, he was arrested in London, so I have nothing more to add here," Peskov said, according to Russia's Tass news agency. "We do hope, of course, that all his rights will be respected," he added.

Other Russian officials also voiced their concern about Assange's well-being following his detention by British authorities.

"We need to use all international opportunities to protect the person who tried to expose the truth and bring information to the public that some entities carefully concealed," said Alexey Chepa, deputy chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's Federal Assembly, according to The Moscow Times.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova criticized Assange's arrest, in an ominous-sounding Facebook post. "The hand of 'democracy' squeezes the throat of freedom," she wrote.

WikiLeaks, which Assange, an Australian national, founded and directed, was caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The organization has been accused of being linked to Moscow, and was behind the publication of thousands of emails of Hillary Clinton, her campaign staffers and the Democratic National Committee. Some of those emails were allegedly hacked by Russia. President Donald Trump's close associate Roger Stone, who was indicted in the Mueller probe, also allegedly discussed some of the emails with WikiLeaks before their publication.

Assange, who first sought asylum in London's Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012, had his asylum revoked by Ecuador on Thursday. He first sought asylum in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations brought by two women. Swedish investigators eventually interviewed Assange in the embassy and dropped the charges. Assange and his supporters claimed that the charges were part of a conspiracy to get him extradited to the U.S.

WikiLeaks has been behind numerous high-profile government leaks, and Assange is wanted in the U.S. for his involvement with the publication in 2010 of hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables. His lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, weeted that her client had been arrested specifically because of an extradition request by the U.S., which the Metropolitan Police has confirmed, in addition to a breach of bail conditions in the U.K.

Newsweek reached out to Robinson for comment, but she did not immediately respond.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, in a news release following Assange's arrest, said it had unsealed court documents that charged the WikiLeaks founder for his "alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States." Prosecutors alleged that Assange worked with former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack Department of Defense computers.

"During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning's transmission of classified records to Assange," the news release read. "The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information."

When the WikiLeaks founder took refuge London's Ecuadorian Embassy, Rafael Correa, the South American country's president at the time, openly criticized America's global influence. His successor, President Lenín Moreno, had long seemed frustrated by Assange's asylum in the embassy.

In a video shared on Twitter on Thursday, Moreno said he had "inherited this situation."

"For six years and 10 months, the Ecuadorian people have protected the human rights of Mr. Assange and have provided for his everyday needs at the facilities of our Embassy in London," he said.

Responding to Assange's arrest, WikiLeaks tweeted in the founder's defense.

"This man is a son, a father, a brother. He has won dozens of journalism awards. He's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2010. Powerful actors, including CIA, are engaged in a sophisticated effort to dehumanise, delegitimize and imprison him."

Russia Reacts to WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange's Arrest: We Hope 'All His Rights Will Be Respected' | World