Sunday, 27 May, 2018

Assange fails to make skipped bail arrest warrant vanish

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange GETTYSweden has dropped its investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange
Andrew Cummings | 07 February, 2018, 01:19

A British court on Tuesday rejected WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's plea to have a warrant for his arrest quashed, Reuters reported.

Mr Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since he took refuge there in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden.

But senior district judge and chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot has told Westminster Magistrates' Court that she is "not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn".

Assange has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden - he claimed the sex was consensual - but he has long argued that there is an global effort led by Washington to persecute him for his role in the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified USA government documents, diplomatic cables and emails.

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

Sweden dropped its investigation previous year, but British police are still seeking to arrest Assange for failing to surrender to a court after violating his bail terms during his unsuccessful battle against extradition.

In 2016, a United Nations panel called on Swedish and British authorities to end Assange's "deprivation of liberty".

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

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

Had the judge ruled in Mr Assange's favour, he would have been free to leave the embassy without being arrested on the British warrant. She said she would make that ruling on February 13, according to The Times.

His lawyer Jennifer Robinson said in a statement: "We must confront the real issue in this case - if Julian Assange walks out of the embassy today, he risks facing extradition to the U.S.to face prosecution for publishing information in the public interest with Wikileaks".

There are no formal charges in against Assange in the USA, though news reports past year suggested the Justice Department was looking into it.

Assange has been living in a tiny room in the Ecuadoran Embassy, and his organization continues to release sensitive documents on the Internet.

Julian Assange won't be seeing the outside world anytime soon.

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