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WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange still faces arrest if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy after a judge today upheld a British arrest warrant against him for skipping bail.
Senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot told Westminster magistrates’ court she considered that his arrest would be a “proportionate response” and not against the public interest.
Mr Assange has been living inside the embassy in Knightsbridge, central London, for more than five years for fear that, if he leaves, he could extradited to the US for questioning over the activities of the whistle-blowing website.
Last week, Ms Arbuthnot ruled that the warrant issued in 2012 was still valid, despite a Swedish investigation into rape allegations having been dropped.
Mr Assange’s lawyers also argued that it was no longer proportionate to pursue him, while he himself claimed that his case had exposed “improper conduct” by the Crown Prosecution Service.
But Ms Arbuthnot ruled that arresting Mr Assange would be a “proportionate response” and suggested that he should have the “courage” to appear in court in person.
She rejected the finding of the United Nations human rights council’s working group on arbitrary detention that Mr Assange had been forced into confinement as “quite wrong.”
The judge also denied that his fears of extradition from Sweden to the US were reasonable, saying: “If that happened, there would have been a diplomatic crisis between the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States.”
Gareth Peirce, a member of Mr Assange’s legal team and a human rights activist, said an appeal against the decision was possible, but she added: “Whether it is pursued is another question.”
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