Judge Upholds UK Warrant Against Julian Assange

Judge Upholds UK Warrant Against Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may stay holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after a British judge ruled Tuesday not to drop charges against him - but the hacktivist still maintains hope of walking free.

Mr Assange has been living inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for more than six years following a sex assault-related case brought by Swedish prosecutors.

The warrant was issued in 2012 after Assange allegedly breached bail conditions by seeking asylum in the embassy.

Assange's lawyers went to court last month to argue that the British warrant serves no goal because he is no longer wanted for questioning in Sweden over alleged sex offences.

Despite the fact that the Swedish case has been dropped, the British authorities consider that he breached his bail conditions.

In 2016, a United Nations panel said that Sweden and the U.K. were arbitrarily detaining Assange, NPR's Leila Fadel reported.

Assange has refused to leave the embassy, claiming he fears being extradited to the United States over WikiLeaks' publication of secret USA military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.

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

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

Assange lawyer Jennifer Robinson said after the court session that he is willing to face British justice if he receives a guarantee that he will not be sent to the U.S.to face prosecution.

His supporters say his health has deteriorated significantly during his years in the embassy, and the London court heard he had suffered depression, dental and shoulder problems. "This is and has always been our overriding concern".

Lawyers for the WikiLeaks founder asked the court to withdraw the warrant, saying it had "lost its purpose".

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

She told the court that not surrendering to bail was a stand-alone offence under the Bail Act and Mr Assange must explain why he had failed to do so.

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