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Court rules arrest warrant against Julian Assange is still valid

07 February, 2018, 01:34 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • FEB. 5 2016 FILE

Julian Assange's attempt to have an arrest warrant against him in the United Kingdom has failed, meaning he'll remain in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London that has been his refuge since 2012.

His lawyer Mark Summers told a London court last week that the warrant had "lost its goal and its function".

An Australian who has been granted Ecuadorian citizenship, Mr Assange is wanted in Britain for breaching his bail conditions when he entered the embassy, instead of handing himself in to be sent to Sweden.

The UK warrant was issued in 2012 after he was said to have breached bail conditions by seeking asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London where he has since lived.

But Aaron Watkins, for the Crown Prosecution Service, told the court Mr Assange's application was "absurd".

Despite arguments from Assange's lawyers that the dropped charges in Sweden make the British arrest warrant unnecessary, senior district judge Arbuthnot stated, "Having considered the arguments ..."

Extradition lawyer Rebecca Niblock, of the law firm Kingsley Napley, said before the ruling that Assange's legal argument was a longshot.

The court heard that the 46-year-old was suffering from a bad tooth, a frozen shoulder and depression because of his long stay in the embassy.

Swedish prosecutors dropped the case previous year, saying all possible leads had been "exhausted".

The Metropolitan police says there is no longer a 24-hour police presence outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange and his lawyers say they fear an arrest could ultimately lead to deportation to the USA, where he may face a sentence as severe as the death penalty for his activities related to Wikileaks. He could still be arrested for leaving Ecuador's embassy in London, where he has lived for years.

"He was under a duty to surrender to the custody of the court and failed to surrender at the appointed time for him to do so".

"Mr Assange had been released on bail in proceedings", said Mr Watkins.

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