Assange loses bid to have arrest warrant dropped

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has lost a legal bid to overturn a United Kingdom arrest warrant, which could have enabled him to walk free from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Arguments were made by Assange's legal representatives that the warrant should be dismissed as it had "lost its objective and function" following an investigation into a sex-related allegation being dropped.

Lawyers for Assange argued in a London courtroom that the outstanding British warrant, issued after Assange skipped bail, had "lost its objective and function" following Sweden's decision previous year to drop an investigation into sexual assault allegations. Despite the fact that the Swedish case has been dropped, the British authorities consider that he breached his bail conditions.

Swedish prosecutors dropped the case past year, but Assange was still subject to a British arrest warrant for violating the terms of bail in 2012.

"Normally", Judge Arbuthnot said, "such issues would only be considered if somebody were brought to court to explain their failure to surrender to bail".

However, the court announced on Tuesday his application had been rejected.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot dismissed calls from Assange's lawyers at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court saying, "I am not persuaded the warrant should be withdrawn", Bloomberg reports.

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She said she would make that ruling on February 13, according to The Times.

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

Julian Assange has been in hiding since he released thousands of classified United States military documents and diplomatic cables on his whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in 2010.

He said the request would effectively reward him with "immunity from being dealt with" by "having managed to evade proceedings sufficiently long that they fall away for whatever reason". 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.

This meant bail warrant was the only thing keeping Assange in the embassy.

Earlier this month, Ecuador granted citizenship to Assange after officials decided his living situation was unsustainable.

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