Julian Assange arrest warrant upheld by court: judge rules it is in public interest to pursue Wikileaks founder

A warrant for the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been upheld by a judge.

In a ruling today at Westminster Magistrates’ Court the judge stated it is in the public interest to pursue him for failing to surrender.

It comes after Mr Assange’s legal team argued that continuing to pursue him for violating bail conditions was not proportionate.

Handing down her judgement, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot said: “I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years.

“Defendants on bail up and down the country, and requested persons facing extradition, come to court to face the consequences of their own choices. He should have the courage to do the same.

“It is certainly not against the public interest to proceed.”

She considered evidence on Mr Assange’s health and other evidence presented at a previous hearing last week.

Judge Arbuthnot said Mr Assange “wants justice only if it goes in his favour”.

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She told the court: “The impression I have, and this may well be dispelled if and when Mr Assange finally appears in court, is that he is a man who wants to impose his terms on the course of justice, whether the course of justice is in this jurisdiction or in Sweden.

“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.”

Holed up inside London’s Ecuadorian Embassy now for six years, Mr Assange refuses to leave because he believes he will be extradited to the United States for questioning over WikiLeaks.

Judge Arbuthnot went on: “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.

“I do not accept that Sweden would have rendered Mr Assange to the United States.

“If that happened there would have been a diplomatic crisis between the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States which would have affected international relationships and extradition proceedings between the states.”

Upon arguing the public interest in dropping the warrant last week, Mr Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers QC said Mr Assange had reasonable grounds or justification for failing to surrender.

He said the UN has ruled that his situation is “arbitrary, unreasonable, unnecessary, and disproportionate”

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