Judge again upholds Assange's arrest warrant

By Danielle Haynes  |  Feb. 13, 2018 at 8:26 PM
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Feb. 13 (UPI) -- A British judge upheld the arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday, the second time in a week.

The ruling to uphold the arrest warrant will keep Assange's legal status unchanged, so he could be arrested for leaving Ecuador's Embassy in London, where he has sought refuge and lived for more than five years.

Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot lambasted Assange's lawyer, who sought to have the warrant dropped. He said Assange's living conditions in the embassy were prison-like and he required medical attention for a bad tooth and depression.

Arbuthnot said Assange is free to leave the prison any time he likes.

"He is a man who wants to impose his terms on the course of justice," she said. "He wants justice only when it's in his favor."

Assange said he is surprised at the ruling.

"Judge went well outside what the parties presented in court. This seems to have led to many factual errors in the judgment," he tweeted.

It was the second time in about a week Assange sought to have the warrant dropped.

Assange was granted political asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations. The investigation was dropped but Assange refused to leave, claiming fears of being extradited to the United States over a bail breach.

Assange could face charges in the United States that include espionage, conspiracy and theft over the publication of classified U.S. documents on WikiLeaks.

Last year, Swedish authorities dropped their investigation into Assange, saying there was no reasonable way to bring him in for questioning, but his arrest warrant in Britain remains outstanding. 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.

In December, Assange was granted Ecuadorean citizenship after applying for it months earlier. Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Ecuador's foreign minister, said Assange would not leave the embassy without security guarantees because he has received threats on his life. She said the Ecuadorean government is seeking a "dignified and just" solution in his case with the British government.

An attorney for Assange told a district judge since the Swedish case had been dropped, the warrant had "lost its purpose and its function."

The attorney added that staying in the embassy for so many years where Assange has no access to adequate medical care or sunlight has caused his physical and psychological health to deteriorate.

Susan McFarland contributed to this report.

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