Julian Assange loses legal bid to overturn United Kingdom arrest warrant

Julian Assange

Assange's lawyer Mark Summers had previously told the court the bail arrest warrant had "lost its goal and its function" when Sweden withdrew the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

At Westminster Magistrates' Court, senior district judge and chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said that having considered the arguments she was "not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn".

Olivia Harris / Reuters Julian Assange has been living at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, the year he is pictured here.

Last year, Sweden dropped its investigation into rape allegations against Assange because it was unable to get access to him.

The judge said that if Assange wanted the warrant lifted he should surrender to authorities and come to court.

But Assange was still subject to the British warrant for breaching his bail conditions in 2012. Though that case eventually timed out in May a year ago, the unwelcome guest has stayed put because he fears being arrested by British police and handed over to the Americans, who want to prosecute him over his WikiLeaks website.

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Assange faces arrest if he leaves the embassy, where he has been holed up for five and a half years.

Mr Assange came to global prominence in 2010 when his website Wikileaks released tens of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents.

Arbuthnot said that on February 13 she will rule on a request to have the entire United Kingdom case against Assange dropped.

His lawyer Jennifer Robinson said in a statement: "We must confront the real issue in this case - if Julian Assange walks out of the embassy today, he risks facing extradition to the U.S.to face prosecution for publishing information in the public interest with Wikileaks".

But prosecutor Aaron Watkins earlier called Assange's court bid "absurd".

The Foreign Office condemned this, saying it "completely rejects any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention".

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