Wikileaks founder loses appeal to have United Kingdom arrest warrant withdrawn

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addresses the media from the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy. Justin Tallis AFP Getty Images
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07 February, 2018

His lawyers have now made an application at Westminster Magistrates' Court last for the United Kingdom warrant to be withdrawn, saying it had "lost its objective and its function".

Assange has been hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the last five years, having claimed asylum to evade extradition to face rape allegations in Sweden.

Assange tweeted to condemn "wall to wall fake news stating the government won today's hearing", insisting his legal team was still fighting the warrant on other grounds.

Olivia Harris / Reuters Julian Assange has been living at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, the year he is pictured here.

Swedish prosecutors were investigating allegations of sexual assault and rape made by two women in 2010.

The judgment, handed down this afternoon by the Chief Magistrate of England and Wales, confirmed that the arrest warrant issued in 2012 against Assange for skipping bail is still valid.

"Therefore the warrant stands", Watkins said, calling Assange's situation "extremely simple".

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If he were to leave Ecuador's embassy, Assange would face arrest by British police.

Swedish authorities previous year dropped the charges against him because of the passage of time.

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. Last month, Ecuador said it had granted the Australian-born hacker citizenship in a bid to break the logjam.

But she said she would rule separately on another application from Assange's lawyers asking her to consider whether it would be in the "public interest" to keep the warrant in place.

There are no formal charges in against Assange in the US, though news reports previous year suggested the Justice Department was looking into it.

Julian Assange won't be seeing the outside world anytime soon.


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