nsucurrent.com April 19, 2018

Arrest warrant upheld in Julian Assange case, new hearing on February 13

07 February 2018, 01:33 | Colleen Roy

Court to Make Decision on Validity of UK Arrest Warrant Against Julian Assange

5 2016 shows Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange coming out onto the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy to address the media in central London. Ben Stansali  AFP

Julian Assange has lost an appeal to have his arrest warrant for jumping bail dropped, meaning the Wikileaks founder looks set to stay holed up in London's Ecuadorian embassy.

Mr Assange's lawyers went to court last month to argue the warrant served no objective because he was no longer wanted for questioning in Sweden in relation to alleged sex offences.

Should the judge rule in Assange's favour on the public interest point, it remained unlikely that he would leave the Ecuadorean embassy immediately as he fears the United States would unseal charges against him and that the British authorities would arrest him under a U.S. extradition warrant.

The 46-year-old Australian, who gained prominence during the 2016 USA presidential election after Wikileaks published thousands of emails belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, faced sexual assault allegations from two women in Sweden, which he has denied. But Assange was still subject to the British warrant for breaching his bail conditions in 2012.

Despite that investigation being dropped, however, the United Kingdom arrest warrant for Assange was issued in 2012 after he jumped bail.

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

Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot said in Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday she was not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn.

Supporters of Assange said they planned to hold a protest outside the embassy on Tuesday evening. He drew global attention in 2010 for leaking thousands of classified US military and diplomatic documents, which infuriated American officials.

Last year, Sweden dropped its investigation into rape allegations against Assange because it was unable to get access to him.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously said arresting Assange is "a priority".

Mr Assange wrote: "I can confirm that a package containing an unknown white powdery substance and a threat was addressed to my name".

This meant bail warrant was the only thing keeping Assange in the embassy. A decision in Assange's favor would end Britain's case against him.

Earlier this year Ecuador's foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said the South American nation was seeking a "third country or a personality" to broker a final settlement with the British government to resolve Mr Assange's future.

However, a "covert plan" to arrest Assange should he leave his cramped quarters in the building has remained in place.

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