British Judge Upholds Arrest Warrant for WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. A British judge on Tuesday Feb. 6 2018 upheld a U.K. arrest warrant for the Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange leaving

Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. A British judge on Tuesday Feb. 6 2018 upheld a U.K. arrest warrant for the Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange leaving

Swedish prosecutors dropped the case a year ago, saying there was no prospect of bringing Assange to Sweden in the foreseeable future.

British prosecutors told Judge Emma Arbuthnot the United Kingdom arrest warrant must stand because Assange shouldn't be rewarded for having outlasted Swedish authorities, which dropped the case after concluding there was no reasonable hope of bringing him to Sweden to answer questions.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lost a legal bid to have his United Kingdom arrest warrant declared invalid yesterday - but a London judge has agreed to rule on further arguments next week.

Assange - fearing extradition to the USA - also had "reasonable grounds" to skip bail in 2012, Mr Summers added.

"I am not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn", said judge Emma Arbuthnot, the chief magistrate of England and Wales.

Assange, 46, has been holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London since he took refuge there in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Swedish prosecutors stopped investigating the rape claims against Assange a year ago, saying all possible leads had been "exhausted".

Arbuthnot said in her ruling that "the administration of justice can be undermined by defendants who fail to attend" court while free on bail.

His lawyers went on to argue it was no longer proportionate or in the public interest to pursue him for failing to answer bail at a police station as he fought extradition to Sweden.

Earlier this month, Ecuador said it had granted the Australian-born hacker citizenship, as the South American country tried to unblock the stalemate that has kept Assange as its houseguest for five-and-a-half years.

But he may choose to remain inside because of grave concern that he faces a secret US indictment on charges related to WikiLeaks' disclosure of leaked classified USA documents. News also emerged that Ecuador was allegedly trying to make Assange a member of its diplomatic team, which would grant him diplomatic immunity.

Should she rule in Assange's favor next Tuesday, it remains unlikely however that he will leave the embassy immediately.

Lawyer Mark Summers said the warrant had "lost its goal and its function" since it's related to a sex crimes investigation against Assange in Sweden that has ended without him being charged with wrongdoing.

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