UPDATES WITH NEXT HEARING DATE, STATEMENT FROM JULIAN ASSANGE
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.
However, Aassange said on Twitter that the court decided on only one of the points made by his lawyers and the rest of the case will continue on Feb. 13.
“Court has adjourned in my arrest warrant case. Judgment next Tuesday, 13 February 2018,” he tweeted.
In an earlier tweet that followed news that his appeal was rejected, Assange said: “Wall to wall fake news stating the government won today's hearing. Nothing of the sort has happened. The hearing is still happening. Only one point has been ruled on.”
Assange’s legal team 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.
The final decision in the case will be made on Tuesday next week, the court said.
“We hope this situation will come to an end very soon and we look forward to the decision next week... [Tuesday's decision] is not disappointing, we finally had the court understand the public interest of this case,” Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson said.