A Kremlin-backed video news agency beat all UK media outlets to secure exclusive footage of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange being forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian embassy after seven years today.
Ruptly scored the lucrative images after filming the embassy in Knightsbridge, London, 24 hours a day for the past week and sticking it out “when all other media decided to leave”.
The agency, which was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Berlin, is a subsidiary of RT, the state-backed Russian broadcaster.
The footage captured by Ruptly showed Assange for the first time in about a year, now sporting a long white beard.
He could be heard shouting “the UK has no sovereignty” and “the UK must resist this attempt by the Trump administration…” as he was dragged out by five police officers and put into a van.
Later in the day, more news agencies, including Getty, Press Association and Reuters were able to get images of Assange as he was taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court (pictured) where he was found guilty of breaching his bail conditions by entering the embassy in 2012.
The Guardian has reported that the main UK broadcasters – BBC, Sky News and ITN – had an agreement to take turns manning a camera outside the embassy and pool any resulting footage, but this ended at the weekend after it was decided Assange was not likely to leave imminently.
However a spokesperson for Channel 4 News said they were not aware of any pool arrangement. The other broadcasters did not respond to a request for comment this afternoon.
— Barnaby Nerberka (@barnabynerberka) April 11, 2019
In a statement, Ruptly newsroom boss Laura Lucchini gave an insight into how her agency got the exclusive footage.
“These images are the result of hard work by our producers in the newsroom and on the ground,” Lucchini said.
“For the last week, we closely monitored developments on this story while our team of producers worked in shifts, filming the embassy 24/7. On many of these days and nights, there were no developments.
“We saw camera crews come and go. But we stayed. We believe that these images hold great news value.”
She said “hard work and patience can yield rewards”, adding: “We are happy to work with a young, ambitious and committed team who stayed on top of the story when all other media decided to leave.”
The footage was published online by the Guardian, Mail Online, Express, Telegraph, Star and Independent and a screenshot from the minute-long clip shared on Twitter is today’s Evening Standard front page (pictured below).
Ruptly’s livestream on Youtube, which is no longer available, had been viewed 177,200 times as of 4pm today, while its Twitter video of Assange being taken away has had more than 1.7m views.
Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire