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How Julian Assange took refuge on Norfolk estate before seven years in Ecuadorian Embassy

PUBLISHED: 16:41 12 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:09 12 April 2019

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at Ellingham Hall. Picture: Nick Butcher

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at Ellingham Hall. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2010

Julian Assange’s eight year evasion of arrest and extradition came to an end this week when he was taken in by the Metropolitan Police.

Julian Assange leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, where he was found guilty of breaching his bail. Picture: PA WireJulian Assange leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, where he was found guilty of breaching his bail. Picture: PA Wire

Mr Assange now faces potential extradition to the US after being arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

But the 47-year-old’s flight from justice began when he first took refuge at a Norfolk stately home.

Mr Assange sought refuge at Ellingham Hall in Bungay after initially being released on bail in December 2010 on charges of sexual assault and rape.

The Australian computer programmer was wanted for breaching his bail after Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for allegations of sexual assault and rape.

Ellingham Hall. Picture: ArchantEllingham Hall. Picture: Archant

But he sought refuge as he believed he would be extradited to the US for his role in publishing secret American documents.

READ MORE: Ellingham Hall owner to lose Julian Assange surety money

He was welcomed into the Norfolk home by Vaughan Smith, an independent news video journalist and founder of the Frontline Club.

The club is described as a gathering place for journalists, photographers and other like-minded people interested in international affairs and independent journalism.

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Jose Valencia speaks during a press conference  on the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by police in London. Picture: AP Photo/Dolores OchoaEcuador's Foreign Minister Jose Valencia speaks during a press conference on the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by police in London. Picture: AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa

Mr Smith put forward £20,000 towards Mr Assange’s surety which he had to pay £12,000 to the courts.

At the time a statement on the Frontline website said: “In the face of a concerted attempt to shut him down and after a decade since 9/11 that has been characterised by manipulation of the media by the authorities, the information released by Wikileaks is a refreshing glimpse into an increasingly opaque world.

“I am suspicious of the personal charges that have been made against Mr Assange and hope that this will be properly resolved by the courts.”

READ MORE: Ellingham Hall’s Vaughan Smith “delighted” Julian Assange given political asylum and speaks of life living with him

It was also claimed that the WikiLeaks group had been offered the chance to move to Sealand, an independent mini-state based on an old war-time fort off the coast of Felixstowe.

After leaving the hall a year later he took up refuge in the Ecuador embassy in London.

Foreign Minister José Valencia has said the embassy kicked him out after he damaged the building by riding his skateboard and playing football, insulting workers and using a phone not registered with the embassy.

A claim has also been made that he put faeces on the walls but Mr Smith said this is false.

Mr Smith said: “Julian has been under stress but seemed in a balanced frame of mind every time I have seen him. It doesn’t seem in character.”

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