Could Julian Assange be on brink of freedom?

Could Julian Assange be on brink of freedom?
British judge upholds arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder, says he should have courage to face consequences
LONDON — A British judge upheld an arrest warrant for Julian Assange for the second time in a week on Tuesday, a significant setback for him after five and a half years of evading the authorities by living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Before a packed London courtroom, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected the arguments made by Mr. Assanges lawyer, stating that he was not a prisoner, that his living conditions were nothing like those of a prison, and that he could have as many visitors as he liked. In fact, she said, he could — and should — walk free at any time to meet his legal fate.

Assange’s lawyers further claimed that in his confinement at Ecuador’s embassy, the 46-year-old suffers from ailments and lack of sunshine. The judge replied: “I do not accept there is no sunlight. There are a number of photographs of him on a balcony connected to the premises he inhabits. Mr. Assange’s health problems could be much worse.”

He is a man who wants to impose his terms on the course of justice, Judge Arbuthnot said. He wants justice only when its in his favor.

WikiLeaks founder Assange rebuffed in bid to drop British arrest warrant

If the judge had nullified the warrant, Mr. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, might have left the embassy, but that was far from certain. The United States and British governments have never publicly ruled out the existence of a secret request to extradite him to the United States, where he could face prosecution for publishing classified documents.

“Defendants on bail up and down the country, and requested persons facing extradition, come to court to face the consequences of their own choices,” she said. “He should have the courage to do the same. It is certainly not against the public interest to proceed.”

We are surprised, Mr. Assange said on Twitter. Judge went well outside what the parties presented in court. This seems to have led to many factual errors in the judgment.

On Feb. 6, Judge Arbuthnot rebuffed a claim by Mr. Assanges lawyer, Mark Summers, that the warrant was void because it stemmed from a Swedish extradition request that has since been withdrawn.

“I accept that Mr. Assange had expressed fears of being returned to the United States from a very early stage in the Swedish extradition proceedings but, absent any evidence from Mr. Assange on oath, I do not find that Mr. Assange’s fears were reasonable.”

On Tuesday, she rejected the argument that the warrant was contrary to the public interest, saying that Mr. Assanges failure to surrender has impeded the court of justice.

They also said the five years that Assange has spent holed up in the embassy amounted to “adequate, if not severe, punishment” for skipping bail. The lawyers cited a U.N. panel on detentions that described Assange as “arbitrarily detained.”

Mr. Summers gave no immediate public response to the judges decision.

Video: LIVE: Outside Ecuadorian Embassy as courts expected to give ruling on Assange arrest warrant

In the courtrooms public gallery, which held a large contingent of Mr. Assanges supporters, many of the judges comments met with gasps and murmurs of disapproval. Afterward, several of his allies cited a 2016 ruling by a United Nations human rights panel, stating that Mr. Assange was the victim of arbitrary detention.

His lawyers argued that the years Assange have spent confined to the embassy had been an adequate, if not severe punishment. A United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded in February 2016 that Assange was being arbitrarily detained. British authorities rejected the working groups finding, saying he was in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest.

Assange LOSES latest legal bid to have arrest warrant dropped as judge says he feels he is above the law

I think it was appalling that the judge was disrespecting the decision of the U.N. working group, said Susan Gianstefani, 50, referring to the panel. Julian Assange is being harassed because of WikiLeaks.

Julian Assange loses bid to discharge UK arrest warrant

Emily Butlin, 47, said the judge spoke as a representative of the U.K. government, assisting government in their work instead of representing justice.

Lawyers for Assange argued last week that the British warrant ought to be dropped given that the Swedish investigation into their client had been terminated, but their motion was denied. They then made a second attempt saying that there was insufficient public interest in upholding the warrant.

Judge Arbuthnot dismissed the United Nations groups finding as ill informed. The British authorities have said in the past that Mr. Assange is in self-imposed isolation, not detention.

This case is and always has been about the risk of extradition to the United States, Jennifer Robinson, a member of Assanges legal team, said last week. She also called on the U.K. to provide an assurance against extradition.

Fugitive Julian Assange considers himself above the law, says British judge

WikiLeaks released in 2010 a trove of government documents provided by Chelsea Manning, a United States Army analyst, which American officials said harmed national security.

Comment Email Print LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday lost his second bid in a week to overturn an arrest warrant that has prompted him to take refuge in Londons Ecuadorian Embassy for nearly six years.
British judge upholds arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder, says he should have courage to face consequences
British judge upholds arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder, says he should have courage to face consequences

Judge refuses to quash arrest warrant for Julian Assange

In 2016, it published emails, hacked by Russian intelligence, that were damaging to Hillary Clintons presidential campaign. Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, has said that WikiLeaks acts like a hostile intelligence service.

The Australian, 46, has been living in the Ecuadorean Embassy for more than five years and is wanted for failing to surrender to bail

Here are key points in his case since WikiLeaks burst onto the digital scene in 2010.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last year that arresting Mr. Assange was a priority for the Justice Department. But no charges against him have been made public, and it is not clear whether the department has prepared an indictment but kept it under seal.

Ecuador recently granted citizenship to Mr. Assange, 46, a native of Australia, but Britain rejected an Ecuadorean request to give him diplomatic immunity so that he could leave the embassy without fear of arrest.

Mr. Assanges legal hurdles began in 2011, when Sweden requested that he be extradited there to face accusations that he had sexually assaulted two women. He said that the charges were politically motivated, that he would not get a fair trial there, and that Sweden might turn him over to the United States.

After the British courts rejected his bid to quash the extradition request, Ecuador granted him asylum and he took refuge in the embassy. In doing so, he jumped bail, which resulted in the British arrest warrant.

WikiLeaks founder Assange rebuffed in bid to drop British arrest warrant
WikiLeaks founder Assange rebuffed in bid to drop British arrest warrant

A British judge just accused Julian Assange of cowardice after the Wikileaks founder failed to overturn his arrest warrant

Mr. Summers argued that Mr. Assanges fear that Sweden would hand him to the American authorities was reasonable justification for violating his bail conditions. Judge Arbuthnot said there was no evidence to think that would happen.

This week, news organizations reported that years ago, Swedish prosecutors considered giving up the sexual assault case, but their British counterparts urged them not to.

UK judge upholds arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder
UK judge upholds arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder

Last year, Swedish authorities did drop their investigation of Mr. Assange, along with the request to extradite him, and the arrest warrant is the only remaining legal issue that is publicly known.

In the latest bid to quash the warrant, Mr. Summers said that Mr. Assanges health had suffered from being unable to leave the embassy, and that he lacked exposure to sunlight. Judge Arbuthnot responded that Mr. Assanges health was adequate — she accepted that he had depression and a bad tooth — and she rejected the claim about sun deprivation, noting that he had spoken to reporters from a sunny balcony at the embassy.

Follow Richard Pérez-Peña and Iliana Magra on Twitter: @perezpena and @Magraki.

A judge upheld a British arrest warrant for Julian Assange on Tuesday, saying the WikiLeaks founder should have the courage to come to court and face justice after more than five years inside Ecuadors London embassy.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected arguments by Assanges lawyers that it no longer is in the public interest to arrest him for jumping bail in 2012 and seeking shelter in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden. Prosecutors there were investigating allegations of sexual assault and rape made by two women, which Assange has denied.

Video: UK court upholds Assange arrest warrant twice in one week

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