Julian Assange arrest warrant still stands, court rules

Slim chance UK will let Assange off the hook as judge to rule on arrest warrant appeal

A ruling in Assange's favour could pave the way for him to leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he has been holed up for over five years.

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

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said legal precedents "underline the importance of a defendant attending court when bail to do so", adding: "I am not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn".

Assange only very rarely emerges on the balcony of the embassy building, citing concerns for his personal safety, but frequently takes part in media conferences and campaigns via video link.

Julian Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault charges, which he has denied.

Sweden dropped its investigation past year, but British police are still seeking to arrest Assange for failing to surrender to a court after violating his bail terms during his unsuccessful battle against extradition.

In April 2017, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said arresting Julian Assange over Wikileak's publishing activities was a "priority".

In 2016, a United Nations panel called on Swedish and British authorities to end Assange's "deprivation of liberty".

But under British authorities Assange remains in breach of his bail conditions - a separate offence.

The WikiLeaks founder fears that Sweden would extradite him to the United States, where he faces prosecution for WikiLeaks' publication of leaked U.S. military and diplomatic documents.

But even if Assange wins, he might decide to remain in the embassy because of fears over a possible secret US indictment against him.

Assange was made an Ecuadorian citizen in December.

British prosecutors had opposed the removal of the warrant, saying Assange shouldn't be immune from the law simply because he has managed to evade justice for a long time.

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