Julian Assange loses appeal to have UK arrest warrant scrapped

Julian Assange loses appeal to have UK arrest warrant scrapped

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his latest court bid to have his UK arrest warrant dismissed after a judge said he should have the ‘courage’ to face the charges against him in court.

The 46-year-old whistleblower has spent that last five years holed up inside Ecuador’s London embassy.

He had skipped bail in 2012 to claim political asylum in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of rape and sexual assault against him by two women. Assange denies the charges.  

Lawyers for Assange had claimed it was no longer in the public interest to arrest him after the charges against the Australian national were dropped in Sweden.  

However Assange still faces arrest if he leaves the London embassy for breaching his bail condition in the UK. 

Lawyers for the WikiLeaks founder had asked for the warrant to be withdrawn as Sweden no longer wants to extradite him.  

Yet Judge Emma Arbuthnot told Westminster Magistrates Court she was not persuaded by his lawyer’s arguments and said she found that ‘arrest is a proportionate response’ to Assange’s actions.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his latest court bid to have his UK arrest warrant dismissed

She said: ‘I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years.

‘Defendants on bail up and down the country, and requested persons facing extradition, come to court to face the consequences of their own choices.

‘He should have the courage to do the same.

‘It is certainly not against the public interest to proceed.’

Judge Arbuthnot said: ‘The impression I have, and this may well be dispelled if and when Mr Assange finally appears in court, is that he is a man who wants to impose his terms on the course of justice, whether the course of justice is in this jurisdiction or in Sweden.

‘He appears to consider himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes in his favour.

‘As long as the court process is going his way, he is willing to be bailed conditionally but as soon as the Supreme Court rules against him, he no longer wants to participate on the court’s terms but on his terms.’ 

During the trial, a lawyer for Assange cited a report by a United Nations commitee that argued that the British arrest warrent, issued in 2012 should be thrown out.  

Mark Summers said the UN committee’s report found that Assange had been arbitrarily detained, claiming the five years he had spent in Ecuador’s Lodnon embassy were ‘adequate, if not severe’ punishment. 

Julian Assange still faces an arrest warrant in the UK after a judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court threw out his appeal

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