Julian Assange just got bad news, won't be roaming free anytime soon

Julian Assange of Wikileaks knows fate 13 February

A British judge on Tuesday upheld a United Kingdom arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, leaving him still a wanted man in the country where he has spent more than five years inside the Ecuadorean Embassy.

If he were to leave, he would face arrest by British police for skipping bail in June 2012 by seeking refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to face an allegation of rape, which he denied.

Assange's lawyer Mark Summers then asked the judge if it would be in public interest to continue pursuing his client for breach of bail conditions.

The incident occured on the same day that a United Kingdom judge upheld an arrest warrant against Assange, who is wanted by London police for breaching his bail conditions after surrendering to authorities, and then absconding, in 2012.

In front of a packed public gallery, the judge said the offence of not surrendering to bail was a standalone offence under the Bail Act.

Assange himself first announced the ruling on Twitter.

Assange's legal team earlier made an application to senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot, at Westminster Magistrates' Court, for the withdrawal of the warrant, arguing it had "lost its goal and its function".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously said arresting Assange is "a priority".

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He has long feared that if he leaves the embassy he could be sent to the U.S. to face trial over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret USA military and diplomatic documents.

Assange fled to the embassy after being accused of sexual assault by two women in Sweden.

But Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Aaron Watkins told the court it would be "absurd" if a defendant was effectively rewarded for managing to evade proceedings for sufficiently long that they fell away.

If Assange leaves the embassy, he could be arrested, but what would happen after that is unclear.

Mr Assange wrote: "I can confirm that a package containing an unknown white powdery substance and a threat was addressed to my name". Mr Assange has been released on bail, 2.

In December 2017, Ecuador granted naturalization (the legal process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire its citizenship) to Assange.

A small group of supporters gathered outside the court before the hearing, holding a banner which read "Assange safe passage", and clutching signs saying "asylum end the witch hunt free Assange".

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