WikiLeaks founder Assange loses legal bid to quash British arrest warrant

Marie Harrington
February 7, 2018

A British judge has upheld a United Kingdom arrest warrant for the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, leaving his legal position unchanged after more than five years inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

"I'm not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn", Judge Emma Arbuthnot said in her ruling.

The warrant was issued when the Wikileaks founder breached bail conditions by seeking asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London.

The WikiLeaks creator faced extradition to Sweden, where he was sought in an investigation for sexual assault (The Guardian).

A courtroom defeat means Assange still faces arrest for jumping bail, although British police no longer maintain a round-the-clock security presence outside the embassy.

However, a judge at Westminster Magistrates Court said it remains valid because he skipped bail in June 2012 - when he first took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

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The judge said that if Assange wanted the warrant lifted he should surrender to authorities and come to court. Though that case eventually timed out in May previous year, the unwelcome guest has stayed put because he fears being arrested by British police and handed over to the Americans, who want to prosecute him over his WikiLeaks website.

It added Assange was "in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy".

She said that whistleblower had committed an offence under the Bail Act by refusing to surrender to bail and must explain why he failed to do so.

He has said he feared Sweden would hand him over to the United States to face prosecution over Wikileaks' publication of leaked US military and diplomatic documents.

Earlier this month, Ecuador granted citizenship to Assange after officials decided his living situation was unsustainable.

The Foreign Office condemned this, saying it "completely rejects any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention".

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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