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'Threatening' package sent to embassy, Julian Assange claims

07 February 2018, 01:19 | Myrtle Vega

Lawyers Say Assange Warrant is Worthless, Court to Decide

5 2016 shows Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange coming out onto the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy to address the media in central London. Ben Stansali  AFP

A British judge on Tuesday ruled the arrest warrant against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was still valid.

His lawyer Mark Summers had argued in court that the United Kingdom arrest warrant no longer had a objective or function, as it relates to a Swedish sex crimes investigation now concluded.

In her ruling, senior district judge and chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said having considered the arguments, she was "not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn".

Should his appeal succeed, the Australian could walk free from the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the first time in nearly six years, the Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed.

The Wikileaks founder has consistently denied the allegations of rape and sexual assault.

The investigation and charges in Sweden were dropped previous year, but Assange's British arrest warrant remains outstanding.

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It added Assange was "in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy". Instead, she said that Assange not surrendering to bail was its own offense and that by not appearing in court, Assange has failed to provide reasonable cause for skipping bail.

But under British authorities Assange remains in breach of his bail conditions - a separate offence.

However, Mr Assange suspects there is a secret U.S. indictment against him for WikiLeaks' publication of leaked classified American documents, and that USA authorities will seek his extradition.

Mr Summers said Mr Assange had "at all times" offered to cooperate with the Swedish investigation and the five and a half years he had spent in the embassy in London "may be thought to be adequate, if not severe punishment, for the actions that he took".

There are no formal charges in against Assange in the USA, though news reports past year suggested the Justice Department was looking into it.

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

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