Julian Assange asks United Kingdom court to drop his arrest warrant

Julian Assange asks United Kingdom court to drop his arrest warrant

Troy Powers
January 28, 2018

Assange entered the embassy in 2012 to dodge a European arrest warrant issued over a Swedish probe into rape allegations, but Stockholm dropped its investigation past year.

Prosecutors in Sweden have dropped the charges, but British police maintain Assange will be arrested over breaching his bail if he leaves the embassy in Knightsbridge, central London.

Assange's lawyers claim the warrant has now "lost its objective".

Assange had feared Sweden would hand him over to the United States to face prosecution over WikiLeaks' publication of a large trove of classified military and diplomatic documents - one of the largest information leaks in USA history.

Prosecutors have dismissed Julian Assange's attempt to have his arrest warrant for jumping bail dropped as "absurd, odd and untenable". Another route to secure his exit from the embassy under the garb of diplomatic immunity was also lost when he was recently denied diplomatic status by the United Kingdom government.

His lawyers argue the only thing stopping him going to Ecuador is the arrest warrant issued for jumping bail.

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Assange sought political asylum in the embassy in June 2012, after a failed legal battle to prevent his extradition to Sweden.

Assange's lawyers told the Westminster Magistrate's Court on Friday that the arrest warrant against their client could no longer apply after Swedish prosecutors' decision in May previous year to drop their probe into allegations of sexual misconduct and withdraw their European Arrest Warrant.

However, CPS lawyer Aaron Watkins told the court it would be "absurd" for Assange to be "effectively rewarded with immunity" by evading judicial proceeding for a long enough time that they "fall away".

He said Assange's lawyers were simply trying to look at British laws and then construct an argument which would allow their client to walk free from the embassy. To others, he is a criminal who undermined the security of the West by exposing secrets.

Ecuador also asked London to recognise Assange as a diplomat - which would give him safe passage out of the embassy without fear of arrest - but Britain refused.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, the judge who is now also presiding over the extradition trial of liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya - the next hearing date for which remains uncertain, reserved her judgement in the Assange case after a hearing on Friday.