Julian Assange vows to fight on after judge rules arrest warrant stands
Mr Assange’s lawyers argued the arrest warrant should be discontinued on the grounds it is not in the public interest to pursue.
Julian Assange has vowed to continue a legal fight against a UK arrest warrant after a judge ruled it was still valid.
Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected his legal team’s argument the warrant issued in 2012 was no longer valid because an investigation by the Swedish authorities into a sex-related allegation had been dropped.
But the WikiLeaks founder’s lawyers went on to argue at Westminster Magistrates’ Court it was no longer proportionate or in the public interest to pursue him for failing to answer bail at a police station as he fought extradition to Sweden.
And after the hearing Mr Assange said his case had exposed “improper conduct” by the Crown Prosecution Service and his legal team’s case could still be successful.
Mr 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.
Mr Assange tweeted: “London case is now becoming very interesting as we expose the improper conduct of CPS and the US case.
“We only lost the first of four points. I was never charged. My asylum was over US extradition and Sweden dropped its so-called ‘preliminary investigation’ a year ago.
“We are arguing four points … If we win any point the warrant falls.”
His lawyer, Mark Summers QC, told the court there were four main reasons why his case should be discontinued, including that Mr Assange was justified in seeking refuge in the embassy because he had legitimate fears he would be sought by authorities in the US.
He added: “Secondly, that the UN has ruled that his situation at present is arbitrary, unreasonable and disproportionate.
“Thirdly, that his conduct did not have the usual consequence of paralysing the underlying legal proceedings.
“At all times he offered his cooperation to the Swedish investigation.
“Fourthly, the last five-and-a-half years that he has spent may be thought to be adequate, if not severe punishment, for the actions that he took.”
He said emails uncovered by a Freedom of Information request showed the Swedish prosecutor had been advised by a case lawyer at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that Mr Assange should be interviewed in Sweden.
“It (the correspondence) records that the CPS had already advised that it would not be prudent for Sweden to try to interview Mr Assange in the UK,” he said.
“When I say the CPS, I mean the particular CPS lawyer who conducted this case.
“He records his reasoning as such: ‘The defence would without any doubt seek to turn the event to its own advantage’.
“Mr Assange sought to engage with the underlying process, requested to be interviewed in order to further it and the delay between 2012 and 2016, in which nothing happened, was the result, it appears, of advice that Sweden had received from a CPS lawyer.”
London case is now becoming very interesting as we expose the improper conduct of CPS and the US case https://t.co/8PtKyiUEbc— Defend Assange Campaign (@DefendAssange) February 6, 2018
Earlier, in front of a packed public gallery, the judge said she was not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn.
She said: “One, Mr Assange has been bailed, two, he has failed to surrender, and three, if he has no reasonable cause he will be guilty of an offence.
“Once at court, the defendant would be given the opportunity to explain his failure to surrender and that is when Mr Assange would be able to place before the court his reasonable cause for failing to do so.”
Jennifer Robinson, one of Mr Assange’s legal team at Doughty Street Chambers, said: “Mr Assange remains ready to face British justice and to resolve any outstanding matters related to his seeking protection in the Ecuadorian embassy – but not at the risk of being forced to face American injustice for exercising the freedom to publish.”
Judge Arbuthnot adjourned the case until Tuesday February 13 at 2pm at the same court, when she will give her judgment on the public interest argument.