Julian Assange arrest warrant still valid, judge rules

Feb 07, 2018, 01:35
Julian Assange arrest warrant still valid, judge rules

A British judge has upheld an arrest warrant in the United Kingdom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, leaving his legal position unchanged after more than five years inside Ecuador's embassy in London.

His lawyer Mark Summers had argued in court that the United Kingdom arrest warrant no longer had a goal or function, as it relates to a Swedish sex crimes investigation now concluded.

Assange sought asylum in the embassy because he fears he will eventually be extradited to the USA and prosecuted over WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of secret military documents in 2010.

After the ruling, one of Assange's lawyers, Mark Summers, asked whether it was in the public interest to keep pursuing his client for breach of bail.

If he were to leave Ecuador's embassy, Assange would face arrest by British police.

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Judge Emma Arbuthnot said she would give her decision on February 13.

Earlier on Tuesday senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled that Mr Assange's warrant for breaching bail conditions still stood.

A man takes a selfie photograph in front of a sign that reads "free assange" on the facade of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on January 26, 2018 where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been hold up for over five years.

The 46-year-old has been inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London in self-imposed exile since June 2012.

Swedish prosecutors were investigating allegations of sexual assault and rape made by two women in 2010.

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The judge will give her decision later today.

Assange's defenders call him a freedom fighter who's being persecuted for telling the truth. He drew worldwide attention in 2010 for leaking thousands of classified USA military and diplomatic documents, which infuriated American officials. While its justice system has an extremely long list of things it regards as constituting rape, it also has a very short attention span, so the Swedes have essentially given up trying to speak to Assange.

"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.

It is not publicly known whether there is a sealed US indictment against Assange.

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