Judge to rule on Assange arrest warrant today
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will find out later today whether his UK arrest warrant will be cancelled.
The warrant currently hanging over Assange’s head is for failing to surrender to British authorities after violating his bail terms during the time he was trying to avoid extradition to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault.
Those charges have since been dropped, but the UK arrest warrant still stands. Judge Emma Arbuthnot upheld the warrant in a ruling last week, saying she was not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn. Assange’s lawyers made an application for the judge to consider whether the warrant was still in the public interest. Judge Arbuthnot said she would rule on the application on February 13th.
That would be today and Assange is likely waiting with baited breath for today’s ruling. If it goes in his favour it could mean that Assange may finally be able to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, which he entered in order to dodge extradition to Sweden. The embassy has been his fixed abode since 2012.
If the warrant stands, however, it’s likely he won’t be going anywhere. Assange fears that if he’s arrested by UK authorities he’ll be extradited to the United States to face charges relating to WikiLeaks’s publishing of diplomatic cables and military documents back in 2010.
There was a glimmer of hope for Assange leaving the embassy last year, when Ecuadorian authorities announced that he qualified for citizenship and allegedly tried to make him a member of its diplomatic team, which would grant him diplomatic immunity. The British Foreign Office, however, rejected this request.