Judge maintains Assange UK arrest warrant

07 February, 2018, 01:38 | Author: Kim Reid
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Instead, she said that Assange not surrendering to bail was its own offense and that by not appearing in court, Assange has failed to provide reasonable cause for skipping bail.

Assange has been staying - virtually imprisoned, he says - at the Ecuadoran Embassy for five years.

The 46-year-old sought refuge in London's Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 to escape extradition to Sweden. The Swedish case has since been dropped.

He has long feared that if he leaves the embassy he could be sent to the United States to face trial over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret United States military and diplomatic documents.

United Kingdom authories however, argued that Assange faces arrest for jumping bail in 2012 and should not be "rewarded" for outlasting Swedish authorities.

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An attorney for Assange told a district judge since the Swedish case had been dropped, the warrant had "lost its objective and its function".

At Westminster Magistrates' Court, senior district judge and chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said that having considered the arguments she was "not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn".

Assange's lawyers had requested that police drop its warrant for the Wikileaks founder's arrest.

"The last 5-1/2 years he has spent might be thought adequate, if not severe punishment for the actions he took", he added.

For some, Assange is an activist who exposed government abuses of power and championed free speech. To his critics, he is a criminal who undermined the security of the West and endangered lives in many countries by exposing secrets.

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Arbuthnot said she would rule on those arguments February 13.

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

Swedish prosecutors had already dropped their investigation over sexual assault and rape allegations, which he denies.

He was supposed to be extradited to Stockholm by British authorities before entering the embassy.

However, she allowed Assange's lawyer to make a new set of arguments challenging whether it is in the public interest to continue the case against Assange, and said she would rule on them next week.

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