Wikileaks founder Julian Assange went to court over a British warrant for his arrest stemming from sexual assault allegations in Sweden that have since been dropped, his lawyers arguing that the warrant had “lost its purpose and its function” in light of the disappearing allegations.
But the judge disagreed.
[S]enior district judge Emma Arbuthnot said she was “not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn” based on their initial submissions.
Judge Arbuthnot told the packed courtroom Mr Assange was wanted for refusing to surrender to bail “without reasonable cause”, which is a criminal offence in itself.
The judge added that “It is not uncommon for Bail Act offences to be pursued when the substantive proceedings are no longer in existence.
Mark Summers QC said his client has more than paid for the crime, having spent the past several years at the Ecuadorian embassy.
Arguing the past five and a half years were “adequate, if not severe punishment” for skipping bail, the barrister said Mr Assange suffered from depression and health issues related to his confinement in a small room.
Wikileaks legal counsel Jennifer Robinson said they will continue to pursue Assange's freedom, noting that the risk of extradition to the United States remains their greatest concern:
“Mr Assange remains willing to answer to British justice in relation to any argument about breach of bail but not at the expense of facing injustice in America.
“This case is, and has always been, about the risk of extradition to the US and that risk remains real.”