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Iran Press TV

UK judge refuses to withdraw WikiLeaks founder's arrest warrant

Iran Press TV

Tue Feb 13, 2018 05:45PM

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his legal battle to overturn a British arrest warrant against him, after being held up for more than five years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected Assange's lawyers' argument, in her ruling at Westminster Magistrates Court on Tuesday, that upholding the warrant was no longer in the public interest.

"I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years," said Arbuthnot.

"He appears to consider himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes in his favor," she added.

The ruling means Assange remains in a legal and diplomatic impasse, with no way out of the embassy where he has been residing in since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden after Swedish prosecutors issued a European arrest warrant against him.

The judge rejected claims that Assange was suffering from his confinement, saying, "Assange's health problems could be much worse."

Last week, Arbuthnot upheld the arrest warrant saying that she was "not persuaded" it should be withdrawn.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year said Assange's arrest was a "priority."

Assange's lawyers pled the warrant to be withdrawn since Sweden no longer wants him extradited. They argued that 5½ years in the embassy has been punishment enough.

Assange filed his appeal to the court in late January.

He has also 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.

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