WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asks UK court to lift arrest warrant

January 26, 2018 11:01 am
WikiLeaks founder coming out on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy to address the media in central London on February 5, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in Ecuador’s embassy in London for five years, has asked a court to remove the arrest warrant hanging over him.
Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers told a London court on Friday that the warrant had “lost its purpose and its function.”
Assange had “spent five and a half years in conditions which, on any view, are akin to imprisonment, without access to adequate medical care or sunlight, in circumstances where his physical and psychological health have deteriorated and are in serious peril,” Summers said.
Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s Embassy in the British capital of London in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden after Swedish prosecutors issued a European arrest warrant against him.
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 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
However, British police warned that they will still arrest Assange if he steps foot outside the embassy for failing to surrender to a court after violating bail terms.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot from Westminster Magistrates’ Court said she would deliver her ruling on February 6.
If Arbuthnot rules in Assange’s favor he will be free to leave the embassy without being arrested by British police.
Earlier this month, Ecuador granted citizenship to Assange, who fears that, if he leaves, he will be extradited to the United States over WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.
Ecuador also asked London to recognize Assange as a diplomat, which would give him safe passage out of the embassy without fear of arrest, but Britain refused.
Swedish prosecutors dropped last year their investigation into allegations against Assange, but he still faces arrest for breaching bail conditions if he steps outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
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