Arrest warrant against Julian Assange still valid, court rules

An arrest warrant against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is still valid, a court has ruled.

Lawyers for Assange had argued that the warrant should be dismissed because it had "lost its purpose and function" after a Swedish investigation over sex-related allegations was dropped last year.

He has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than five years, fearing extradition to the US for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks.

The outstanding arrest warrant dates back to 2012, associated with the Swedish investigation, which was closed a year ago.

Lawyers for Assange say the UK arrest warrant serves no legitimate purpose, but has been maintained anyway.

Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot said at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday that she was not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn.

In front of a packed public gallery at Westminster Magistrates' Court, she said not surrendering to bail was a standalone offence under the Bail Act.

She said: "On a straightforward reading of the section:

1. Mr Assange has been bailed

2. He has failed to surrender

3. If he has no reasonable cause he will be guilty of an offence

"Once at court, a defendant will be given an opportunity to put an argument for reasonable cause. And that is when Mr Assange will be able to place that before the court.

"I'm not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn."

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