By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) - The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has lost a legal bid to overturn a U.K. arrest warrant, which could have enabled him to walk free from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Assange’s legal team earlier made an application to senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot, at Westminster Magistrates' Court, for the withdrawal of the warrant, arguing it had "lost its purpose and its function".
“He [Assange] has spent five-and-a-half years in conditions which, on any view, are akin to imprisonment, without access to adequate medical care or sunlight, in circumstances where his physical and psychological health have deteriorated and are in serious peril,” Assange’s lawyers said in their application.
They said Assange’s medical problems included “a terrible bad tooth, frozen shoulder and depression”.
Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy located in Knightsbridge, central London, for nearly six years after claiming diplomatic asylum in June 2012 after being wanted by Swedish prosecutors for questioning over various alleged sexual offenses.
He was supposed to be extradited to Stockholm by British authorities before entering the embassy.
Aaron Watkins, representing the Crown Prosecution Service, said Assange’s argument for having the warrant dropped was “strange and untenable”.
“Assange had been released on bail in proceedings; he was under a duty to surrender to the custody of the court and he failed to surrender at the appointed time for him to do so. Therefore a warrant stands,” Watkins said.