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'Above the law' Assange loses latest legal bid

Sky News logo Sky News 13/02/2018
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo © Reuters WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange © PA WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Julian Assange should have the "courage" to face court after losing his latest bid to have his UK arrest warrant dropped, a judge has said.

Assange's legal team had claimed it was no longer in the public interest to pursue him for failing to answer bail as he fought extradition to Sweden in 2012.

But in a ruling at Westminster Magistrates' Court, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot said Assange believed he was "above the normal rules of law" and arresting him was a "proportionate response".

"Defendants on bail up and down the country, and requested persons facing extradition, come to court to face the consequences of their own choices," the judge said.

"He should have the courage to do the same."

She added: "He appears to consider himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes in his favour."

It was Assange's second failed attempt to have the arrest warrant dropped in a week.

Last week the same judge rejected his lawyers' claim that the warrant issued in 2012 was no longer valid because an investigation into rape claims had been dropped by Swedish authorities.

Assange has been living inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than five years, fearing extradition to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks if he leaves.

He has accused the UK government of a "cover up" to keep him detained and claimed his case had exposed "improper conduct" by the Crown Prosecution Service.

His barrister Mark Summers QC has alleged that emails showed a CPS lawyer apparently persuading the Swedish prosecutor not to drop the case.

He previously told the court that Assange had health problems, including depression, and that his years inside the embassy were more than adequate punishment for his bail offence.

The 46-year-old sought asylum in the embassy because he feared Swedish police would eventually send him to the US over WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of secret military documents in 2010.

The site released confidential information on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, provoking fury among US intelligence and defence chiefs.

Assange's lawyers believe there is a secret US indictment that will end up with him in an American court.

The UK government has not confirmed whether an extradition request exists.

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