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Assange loses bid to drop UK arrest warrant

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Assange loses bid to drop UK arrest warrant

Assange loses bid to drop UK arrest warrant
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REUTERS
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Julian Assange is set to extend his stay in Ecuador’s London embassy after losing his appeal to have his UK arrest warrant dropped.

The Wikileaks founder failed to surrender to bail by seeking asylum in the embassy in 2012. He was being pursued by Sweden at the time, who sought to extradite him in relation to a sexual assault investigation  in the country. Assange has denied the allegations.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled against the 46-year-old's legal team on Tuesday at Westminster Magistrates Court in London. They argued that it was not in the public interest to pursue proceedings against him.

In her ruling, she said: “He feels he is above the law. His failure to surrender has impacted the course of justice. He should have the courage to come to court.”

"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 so too," she added.

Judge Arbuthnot went on to say that Assange still enjoyed some freedoms while living in the embassy, despite arguments that he was living under tight restrictions.

"For a man who spends a great deal of time on his computer, he is free to use multimedia, whether his computer or a mobile telephone, in a way that prisoners are not allowed to do,” she said.

"I suspect if one were to ask one of the men incarcerated in Wandsworth Prison whether conditions in the Ecuadorian Embassy were akin to a remand in custody, the prisoner would dispute the assertion.”

The Australian was granted citizenship by Ecuador in December, citing concerns of threats to his life by "third-party states", the country's foreign minister said.

Assange also fears being extradited to the US after his whistle-blowing website published thousands of their classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

In April 2017, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said arresting Julian Assange over Wikileak’s publishing activities was a "priority".