British judge to rule on WikiLeaks founder's arrest warrant
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange gesturing as he addresses members of the media and supporters from the window of the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, west London on December 20, 2012. (Photo by AFP)
Islam Times - After more than five years of holding up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces a pivotal moment.
On Tuesday afternoon, a British judge is set to overturn or uphold an arrest warrant for Assange, who has been residing in the embassy since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden after Swedish prosecutors issued a European arrest warrant against him.
Last week, Judge Emma Arbuthnot upheld the arrest warrant saying that she was "not persuaded" it should be withdrawn.
Asked by Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers if it was in the public interest to drop the charges, she said she would make a ruling on that on February 13.
Assange was accused of rape in Sweden. Last year, Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation and applied to revoke the European arrest warrant, but the British warrant for violating bail conditions still stands.
Assange's lawyers pled the warrant to be withdrawn since Sweden no longer wants him extradited. They argued that 5½ years in the embassy has been punishment enough.
Assange filed his appeal to the court in late January.
Even if the warrant is finally withdrawn, it is not clear that Assange would leave the embassy.
He has denied the rape accusations, and says the claims are part of an attempt to ultimately have him extradited to the United States, where he could be charged over WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Assange enjoyed extreme popularity among US Democrats until the 2016 US presidential election, where he was accused of hacking Democratic secrets and leaking them to the press in order to help then-Republican candidate Donald Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival.
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