British judge upholds Assange warrant

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost a bid to have his United Kingdom arrest warrant dropped.

Lawyers for Assange argued in a London courtroom that the outstanding British warrant, issued after Assange skipped bail, had "lost its goal and function" following Sweden's decision previous year to drop an investigation into sexual assault allegations.

Mr Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since he took refuge there in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden.

The outstanding warrant stands from 2012, which is in connections with the Swedish investigation, even through it was closed down a year ago.

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.

The Wikileaks founder has consistently denied the allegations of rape and sexual assault. "And that is when Mr. Assange will be able to place that before the court", the judge said.

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Still, Assange has been unable to leave the embassy in London, as he faced arrest for breaching his bail conditions in the UK.

He drew worldwide attention in 2010 for leaking thousands of classified USA military and diplomatic documents, which infuriated American officials.

The judge said that if Assange wanted the warrant lifted he should surrender to authorities and come to court.

Assange's lawyer Mark Summers then asked the judge if it would be in public interest to continue pursuing his client for breach of bail conditions. The chief prosecutor in the Swedish case said the move did not declare Assange innocent, only that he no longer faces any charges in that country. Earlier this month, he was granted Ecuadorean citizenship.

Assange lawyer Jennifer Robinson said after the court session that he is willing to face British justice if he receives a guarantee that he will not be sent to the face prosecution.

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

  • Megan Austin