Friday, 23 February, 2018

Judge Upholds Warrant for Julian Assange's Arrest

Julian Assange CNN You Tube Screengrab
Ellis Copeland | 15 February, 2018, 14:13

A warrant for the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder still stands, said Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot, meaning Assange is unlikely to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has lived for the past six years, anytime soon.

Commenting on the United Kingdom court decision, Assange stated, that it may be appealed within 3 months, saying that there have been "significant factual errors in the judgment".

The court was tasked with ruling on a legal bid to dismiss any further action against Assange on the charge.

Assange has been hiding out in Ecuador's London embassy for the past five and a half years in an effort to avoid an arrest linked to claims of sexual misconduct in Sweden.

He highlighted a Guardian report which quoted emails sent by Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to Swedish counterparts in 2012, urging them not to drop their application for a European arrest warrant.

Ms Arbuthnot was scathing, and said Mr Assange could come to court and "face justice".

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

Assange's supporters regard him as a champion of freedom of speech who has exposed inconvenient truths at great personal cost. This seems to have led to the significant factual errors in the judgment.

Early on in the extradition process, the CPS advised Swedish prosecutors against interviewing Assange in London despite such a move potentially progressing matters.

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Lawyers for Assange argued last month the warrant for failing to appear at court had lost its objective and applied for it to be withdrawn citing it was not in the public interest.

A US government official told Reuters on Monday that federal prosecutors were still pursuing a criminal investigation against WikiLeaks using a grand jury based in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington D.C.

The warrant was issued when Mr Assange, 46, breached bail conditions in 2012 by seeking political refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy. In our recent FOI challenge against the CPS [.] the CPS refused to disclose certain material because it would "tip off" Mr Assange about a possible U.S. extradition request.

She said he would have had enough sunlight and access to the internet during his "self confinement" something which other prisoners would not of had.

However, Mark Summers QC, Assange's lawyer, said that detaining was no longer proportionate nor in the public interest, as Sweden had withdrawn its extradition request.

His doctors and lawyers say his physical and mental health has suffered; he has a fractured tooth, a shoulder injury that requires an MRI scan, and depression.

The judge rejected those arguments, saying conditions in the embassy were much better than in prison.

"The history of the case from start to finish is extraordinary", she said.

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