WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange loses second bid for freedom in the UK
Julian Assange has lost his second attempt this month to have an arrest warrant against him quashed, meaning that he is likely to continue to hide in Ecuador’s embassy in London.
“He’s a man who wants to impose his terms on the course of justice,” said Judge Emma Arbuthnot in upholding the warrant made against the WikiLeaks founder after he failed to appear at court as part of a sexual assault investigation in 2012.
Assange “only supports the law when it’s going his way,” she said, adding: “Defendants on bail up and down the country, and requested persons facing extradition, come to court to face the consequences of their own choices. He should have the courage to do so too.”
“Not looking good,” Assange’s Twitter feed said before the final verdict. “So far, judge is just defending UK state actions.”
Arbuthnot was not persuaded by Assange’s lawyers’ argument that it was no longer in the public interest to arrest him for jumping bail in 2012 and seeking shelter in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he had been accused of raping two women.
Assange, who denied the allegations, sought refuge in the embassy because he feared that he would then be passed by Sweden to the US to face prosecution over WikiLeaks’ publication of classified documents.
Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation last year, but the British warrant for violating bail conditions still stands.
Assange’s lawyer, Mark Summers, cited a report by a United Nations committee to argue that the British arrest warrant should be thrown out.
Summers said the UN committee’s report concluded that Assange was being arbitrarily detained, adding that the five-and-a-half years Assange has spent inside Ecuador’s London embassy are “adequate, if not severe” punishment for his actions.
But Arbuthnot said on Tuesday she finds “arrest is a proportionate response” to Assange’s actions.
Even if the judge lifts the British arrest warrant, Assange’s legal problems may not be over. He suspects there is a secret US grand jury indictment against him for WikiLeaks’ publication of classified documents, and that American authorities will seek his extradition.
Assange and WikiLeaks have become famous over the past decade for disclosing confidential documents about the US government and politics.
The website injected itself into the middle of the last US presidential race by publishing hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign.