February 14, 2018 08:19
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lost a bid Tuesday to drop a British arrest warrant against him, which he had hoped would free him from his self-imposed exile in Ecuador's embassy in London.
British Magistrates Court Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected his lawyers' argument that it was no longer in the public interest to uphold the warrant for breaching his bail conditions when he first walked into the embassy nearly six years ago to avoid being extradited to Sweden in a rape investigation that Sweden dropped last year.
"I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr. Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years," Arbuthnot said.
"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," she said.
Arbuthnot said the 46-year-old Assange "appears to consider himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes in his favor."
Assange has said he fears that his arrest could lead to his extradition to the United States to face criminal charges over WikiLeaks' publication of secret U.S. military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last year that Assange's arrest was a "priority."
The British court was told that Assange suffers from a bad tooth, a frozen shoulder and depression. Fearing for his safety, he only rarely emerges onto an embassy balcony, but he has frequently taken part in media conferences and campaigns about his case via a video link.
Ecuador granted Assange, a native of Australia, citizenship last month.
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