Julian Assange has lost his second court bid in a week to have his UK arrest warrant dropped, with a judge calling on the WikiLeaks founder to have the “courage” to surrender to police.
In a withering ruling, Justice Emma Arbuthnot, of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, said: “He appears to consider himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes in his favour. As long as the court process is going his way, he is willing to be bailed conditionally but as soon as the Supreme Court rules against him, he no longer wants to participate on the court’s terms but on his terms.”
Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, initially because he was wanted for questioning in Sweden over a rape allegation - an accusation Assange denies.
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Sweden abandoned its case last year, but Assange has remained in self-imposed exile in the embassy fearing that, if he leaves, he could be arrested and eventually extradited to the US and possibly Guantanamo Bay. The Australian-Ecuadorian national is linked to the leak of US military materials including a video showing unarmed Iraqis being gunned down by an American helicopters.
Arbuthnot said she did not find Assange’s fear that he could be extradited to the US to be “reasonable”, the BBC reports.
UK authorities maintain that Assange jumped bail in 2012 and that this charge remains valid regardless of Sweden dropping its investigation.
Assange’s legal team had tried to overturn the arrest warrant arguing that it was not proportional or in the public interest. His lawyers noted that Assange has cooperated with Sweden, has spent almost six years in the embassy, and that the UN ruled he has been arbitrarily detained, The Guardian says.
Arbuthnot knocked down those arguments, saying that Assange can leave the embassy “whenever he likes”.
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