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Julian Assange: Wikileaks founder remains in Ecuadorian embassy as court rules arrest warrant is still valid - as it happened

Judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court to make further ruling on Tuesday

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 06 February 2018 14:48
Lauri Love visits Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy as his arrest warrant is upheld

Julian Assange has lost the first round of a bid to have the arrest warrant against him in the UK dropped.

The Wikileaks founder's lawyer made an application to Westminster Magistrates' Court arguing it has "lost its purpose and its function" since investigations over sexual assault allegations were dropped in Sweden.

But senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot said she was "not persuaded the warrant should be withdrawn".

After hearing new arguments from Mr Assange's legal team on the public interest and his health, she reserved judgement on those submissions until Tuesday.

Mr Assange has been living inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years since the case was brought, over fears it could spark his extradition to the US.

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Mr Assange’s lawyers will be able to appeal against the court’s decision.

The Australian activist was on bail when he fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, over fears a Swedish investigation could be used to extradite him to the US for Wikileaks’ activities.

But Sweden dropped its investigation into allegations of sexual offences in May 2017, causing a separate European Arrest Warrant to be scrapped.

At the time, the Metropolitan Police confirmed its officers were still required to arrest Mr Assange.

“Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012,” a statement said.

“The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy.”

As the Swedish investigation continued in December 2010, Mr Assange was jailed in Wandsworth Prison in isolation for 10 days and then put under house arrest for 550 days under powers granted by an international arrest warrant.

Scotland Yard stood down the 24/7 police presence outside the Ecuadorian embassy building in 2015 but pledged to make “every effort” to arrest Mr Assange if he left.

There had been controversy over the escalating cost of the exercise, which was believed to be over £12m.

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Hello and welcome to our online coverage of a ruling due to be made on the arrest warrant against Julian Assange in the UK.

The Wikileaks founder's lawyers have made representations to Westminster Magistrates' Court arguing that the warrant has "lost its purpose and function" since investigations against him were dropped in Sweden.

The probe caused Mr Assange to go into hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been living for six years. Here is some background on the case: 

Lizzie Dearden6 February 2018 14:00
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The European Arrest Warrant against Mr Assange was lifted in May last year but the Metropolitan Police confirmed a British arrest warrant dating from 2012 was still in place.

“Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012,” Scotland Yard said at the time.

“The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy.”

Lizzie Dearden6 February 2018 14:03
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Our reporter Tom Embury-Dennis is at the Ecuadorian Embassy, where cameras have gathered in expectation of a speech by Mr Assange following the result in court.

Lizzie Dearden6 February 2018 14:13
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Lauri Love, the alleged hacker who won a High Court battle against being extradited to the US, says he visited Mr Assange at the embassy today. 

Lizzie Dearden6 February 2018 14:14
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Mr Assange has lost in his bid to have the warrant declared invalid at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Lizzie Dearden6 February 2018 14:20
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Lizzie Dearden6 February 2018 14:24
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Lizzie Dearden6 February 2018 14:38
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We are awaiting a statement by Mr Assange and his lawyers after a judge said she was not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn.

Lizzie Dearden6 February 2018 14:42
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Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot told Westminster Magistrates' Court that failing to surrender to bail was a standalone offence under the Bail Act.

She said: “On a straightforward reading of the section:

1. Mr Assange has been bailed

2. He has failed to surrender

3. If he has no reasonable cause he will be guilty of an offence

“Once at court, a defendant will be given an opportunity to put an argument for reasonable cause. And that is when Mr Assange will be able to place that before the court.

“I'm not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn.”

Lizzie Dearden6 February 2018 14:42
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Lizzie Dearden6 February 2018 15:00