Julian Assange won't be able to leave the Ecuadorean embassy any time soon, after a UK judge ruled against revoking his arrest warrant.

By Joe McDonough


Posted on February 14, 2018

The WikiLeaks founder has been dealt a new blow, with a UK judge thwarting his latest attempt to gain freedom from London’s Ecuadorean embassy — where he has been holed up for almost six years.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot said Assange lacked courage for not fronting court in person, before proceeding to argue why the five points made by his legal team last week had not convinced her to revoke the warrant for his arrest over breaching bail.

“The impression I have… is that he is a man who wants to impose his terms on the course of justice. He appears to consider himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes in his favour,” she told Westminster Magistrates Court.

“Having weighed up the factors for and against, I find the arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years.

“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.”

At the previous hearing, Mark Summers QC argued for Assange’s release based on five main points.

— That it was reasonable he failed to turn up to court based on fears of extradition to the US.
— A UN working group had determined his treatment was “disproportionate and unreasonable”.
— He had not obstructed justice in Sweden as he had been interviewed inside the embassy.
— Five years inside was punishment enough.
— The original arrest warrant for Swedish allegations had been dropped.

But Judge Arbuthnot dissected each one individually.

Among her responses, she said Assange wouldn’t have been extradited because it would’ve caused a “diplomatic crisis” between the US, UK and Sweden, and argued that conditions inside the Ecuadorean embassy were hardly comparable to Wandsworth prison.

Assange’s lawyer Gareth Pierce was left “baffled” by the ruling.

“The history of the case is from start to finish so extraordinary that each aspect of it becomes puzzling and troubling,” she said.

So too, was his gallery of supporters, with many leaving the courtroom to stand outside the Knightsbridge-based embassy in solidarity.

The team has the option to formally lodge an appeal, and Assange has given every indication it is heading that way.