Assange Loses Warrant Fight as Judge Says He Lacks Courage
(Bloomberg) -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was challenged by a U.K. judge to come out of his hiding place in the Ecuadorian embassy and face the arrest that he’s been avoiding for more than five years.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot on Tuesday refused to overturn a warrant that Assange blames for keeping him in the London apartment. The Australian appears to think he’s above the law and lacks courage, she said.
It’s the second time this month Arbuthnot refused to overturn the warrant issued after the 46-year-old failed to appear at a London court in 2012 for a Swedish sexual assault probe.
“He’s a man who wants to impose his terms on the course of justice,” Judge Emma Arbuthnot said. “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.”
Arbuthnot said she wasn’t convinced by the public interest arguments from Assange’s lawyer, which included that his time in the embassy had been punishment enough. Assange is free to use his computer, his cellphone and has access to a balcony, she said. She also judged he is in “relatively good physical health,” after 5 1/2 years in the office.
Arbuthnot dismissed another set of arguments a week ago by his team, which said the Swedish arrest warrant lost its purpose when the sexual-assault case was dropped.
One of Assange’s attorneys, Gareth Peirce, declined to give a view on the verdict, which could be reviewed by judges in the next three months.
“We are surprised,” Assange’s Twitter feed said. “The judge went outside what the parties presented in court. This seems to have led to the significant factual errors in the judgment.”
Assange walked into the Ecuadorian embassy in June 2012, after exhausting options in U.K. courts to avoid extradition over the allegations stemming from a 2010 trip to Sweden. He refused to return to the Scandinavian country for questioning, citing risks he would be extradited to the U.S.
He and WikiLeaks have become famous over the past decade for disclosing confidential documents about the U.S. government and politics. The website injected itself into the middle of the last U.S. presidential race by publishing hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
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