WASHINGTON -- James Earl Ray, the accused assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was arrested in London today by Scotland Yard detectives, the Justice Department announced.
Atty. Gen. Ramsey Clark said Ray was carrying two Canadian passports under the name of Ramon George Sneyd. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover said the hunted man was armed with a fully loaded pistol when he was arrested at 11:15 a.m. London time.
His capture ended an intensive 65-day manhunt that began when King was killed by a rifle shot as he stood on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tenn. He was placed on the FBI's list of 10 most wanted criminals on an emergency basis on April 20 -- 16 days after the civil rights leader was assassinated.
Hoover said extradition proceedings for Ray's return to the United States will be initiated soon.
The FBI said one of the passports Ray was carrying had been issued April 24 in Ottawa, Canada. The other had been issued May 16 by the Canadian embassy in Lisbon, Portugal.
Hoover said Ray was detained as he passed through British immigration, planning to fly to Brussels, Belgium.
He was reportedly wearing glasses and attired in a light colored raincoat over grey trousers and a sports jacket.
Hoover said Ray was in custody at London's Cannon Row Police Station under maximum security conditions.
He said Ray was carrying a fully loaded pistol in his hip pocket.
Ray is under investigation for first degree murder. The indictment was returned May 7 by a grand jury in Memphis, Tenn.
The 40-year-old fugitive was identified by fingerprints as the man who had posed as Eric Starvo Galt on the west coast and in Memphis prior to the murder.
He had previously been hunted by the FBI for escaping from Missouri state penitentiary at Jefferson City on April 23, 1967. He was serving a 20-year sentence for armed robbery when he escaped concealing himself in a truck.
A native of Illinois, Ray had served previous jail sentences in Los Angeles, Illinois state prisons in Joliet and Pontiac and the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan.
He was discharged from the Army in December 1948, after serving three months at hard labor for being drunk and resisting arrest.
The accused assassin claimed to have worked aboard Mississippi river boats and as a baker, laborer and color matcher. While on the west coast early this year, he took a course as a bartender at a Los Angeles school.
Hoover said Ray was detained by British authorities as a result of his use of fraudulent passport and on the fact that he was carrying the concealed weapon.