Julian Assange fails in attempt to have British arrest warrant dropped

Saul Bowman
February 7, 2018

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his bid to have a United Kingdom arrest warrant dropped.

Assange has spent the past five-and-a-half years holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London, as a result of the allegations.

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 ..."

But even if the judge had dropped the British arrest warrant, WikiLeaks warned Assange could face life in prison in the United States on charges of espionage, conspiracy and theft related to WikiLeaks' publishing of secret US government cables.

Assange's legal team is now arguing that the British state taking action against him for skipping bail is not in the public interest, on which the judge will rule next week.

Even if Assange's arrest warrant has been dropped, he could have still been extradited to the U.S. to face trial over WikiLeaks' publication of classified USA military and diplomatic documents in 2010 - which amounted to one of the largest information leaks in United States history.

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

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.

USA officials haven't confirmed whether a request for Assange's extradition has been made. Earlier this month, he was granted Ecuadorean citizenship.

Ecuador also asked Britain to grant him diplomatic status.

He had been facing extradition to Sweden to answer sex assault claims but these charges have since been dropped.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

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

However, Metropolitan Police in London said Mr Assange will still be arrested - for failing to surrender to a court - if he leaves the embassy.

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