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Iran Press TV

UK court rejects Julian Assange's bid to drop arrest warrant

Iran Press TV

Tue Feb 6, 2018 06:42PM

A court in the UK has upheld an arrest warrant for founder of WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group Julian Assange, who is currently taking refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

After rejecting Assange's latest attempt to have the warrant dropped, British Judge Emma Arbuthnot said Tuesday that she was "not persuaded" it should be withdrawn.

Asked by Assange's lawyer Mark Summers if it was in the public interest to drop the charges, she said she would make a ruling on that on February 13.

Assange, who has been living in Ecuador's embassy in London for five years, is accused of rape in Sweden. He filed his appeal to the court in late January.

The whistleblower has been living in the embassy since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden after Swedish prosecutors issued a European arrest warrant against him.

Even if the warrant is finally withdrawn, it is not clear that Assange would leave the embassy.

He has denied the rape accusations, and says the claims are part of an attempt to ultimately have him extradited to the United States, where he could be charged over WikiLeaks' release of thousands of secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Assange enjoyed extreme popularity among US democrats until the 2016 US presidential election, where he was accused of hacking Democratic secrets and leaking them to the press in order to help then-Republican candidate Donald Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival.

Jennifer Robinson, another Assange lawyer, did not rule out the possibility of a secret extradition request by the US.

"No one can credibly deny that risk," Robinson had said earlier. "The US Attorney General [Jeff Sessions] has said it is still a priority to prosecute Mr. Assange."

Speaking to reporters last April, Sessions said Assange's arrest was a "priority" for Washington.

"We've already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail," he said.

This is while his boss, President Trump, has praised the job Assange has done with WikiLeaks.

"I love WikiLeaks," he once told a rally during the campaign.

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