Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses bid to have United Kingdom arrest warrant dropped

07 February, 2018, 01:32 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
  • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

Assange is waiting for a British judge to drop the arrest warrant for absconding, which should enable him to walk free from the little room he has been in for over five years.

Lawyers for the Wikileaks founder had argued that the arrest warrant had "lost its purpose" after Swedish extradition claims over sexual assault allegations were dropped.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is now staying at the embassy, where he has been living since 2012.

The 46-year-old Australian, who gained prominence during the 2016 United States presidential election after Wikileaks published thousands of emails belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, faced sexual assault allegations from two women in Sweden, which he has denied.

Assange's lawyer Mark Summers asked Judge Arbuthnot to consider whether it would be in the public interest to continue pursuing his client for breach of bail.

If he were to leave, he would face arrest by British police for breaching his bail conditions when he entered the embassy instead of handing himself in to be sent to Sweden.

Arbuthnot said that on February 13 she will rule on a request to have the entire United Kingdom case against Assange dropped.

On Tuesday, the court ruled the warrant is still valid.

The judge, Emma Arbuthnot, did not immediately explain her reasons, saying only, "I am not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn".

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A separate evening demonstration outside the Ecuadoran Embassy was planned for Tuesday evening.

That apprehension related to "what might happen to him in America as a result of extant legal procedures" as well as "what has happened to others", Mr Summers said.

Swedish authorities a year ago dropped the charges against him because of the passage of time.

His supporters say his health has deteriorated significantly during his years in the embassy, and the London court heard he had suffered depression, dental and shoulder problems. He has refrained from leaving, he said, because he fears that if he does, the British government will extradite him to the USA, where he is facing multiple charges for leaking classified information.

He said the request would effectively reward him with "immunity from being dealt with" by "having managed to evade proceedings sufficiently long that they fall away for whatever reason".

This meant bail warrant was the only thing keeping Assange in the embassy.

"The British authorities' failure to provide assurance against that risk is the reason he sought asylum in the embassy in the first place", she said.

Earlier this month, Ecuador granted citizenship to Assange after officials decided his living situation was unsustainable. Some carried placards reading "Assange safe passage" and "Don't shoot the messenger".

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