Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses bid to have United Kingdom arrest warrant dropped

Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London

Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London

The warrant was issued in 2012 after Assange allegedly breached bail conditions by seeking asylum in the embassy.

Lawyers for the Wikileaks founder had argued that the arrest warrant had "lost its purpose" after Swedish extradition claims over sexual assault allegations were dropped.

Assange has been at the embassy for six years.

Assange sought asylum in the embassy because he feared Swedish police would eventually extradite him to the United States, where he could face decades in jail over WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of secret military documents in 2010. In late December, a United Kingdom tribunal refused to release key details on communications between British and Swedish authorities over Assange, in a bid to protect the Crown Prosecution Service's relationship with foreign authorities.

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Mr Assange has been unable to leave the Ecuadorian embassy without risk of being arrested for allegedly breaching his bail conditions, an offence which carries up to one year in prison on conviction.

However, the Metropolitan Police still have an arrest warrant for Assange for failing to surrender to court in June 2012 and that is what a judge has ruled still to be valid.

But she said she would rule separately on another application from Assange's lawyers asking her to consider whether it would be in the "public interest" to keep the warrant in place.

In May previous year, Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny said she was withdrawing the EAW because Assange's refusal to come to Sweden meant "all possibilities to advance the investigation have now been exhausted". "Therefore the investigation is discontinued", said Sweden's director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny.

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Both countries made the decision after Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency . In a video message shortly before his arrest, Gayoom said: "I have not done anything to be arrested".

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions past year said his arrest was a "priority".

Posters featuring character of the WikiLeaks founder are fixed on a barrier in front of the Ecuadorian embassy.

Earlier this month, Ecuador granted citizenship to Assange after officials decided his living situation was unsustainable.

Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot, the Chief Magistrate, said in a short judgment (PDF, five pages) that "it is for the accused to prove he has reasonable cause for his failure to surrender".

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