Assange 'hypothetically' free if arrest warrant attraction granted, ruling due February 6

Jan 28, 2018, 00:18
Assange 'hypothetically' free if arrest warrant attraction granted, ruling due February 6

A court heard the Wikileaks founder was suffering from depression, a frozen shoulder and painful toothache after hiding in Ecuador's London embassy from rape allegations and arrest for skipping bail since 2012.

Assange entered the embassy in 2012 to dodge a European arrest warrant issued over a Swedish probe into rape allegations, but Stockholm dropped its investigation a year ago.

While legal proceedings concerning the rape charges were dropped in May past year, Assange fears if he is arrested he could be extradited to America where he is wanted for leaking secretive documents via Wikileaks.

The hearing involved a plea by Assange's lawyers to cancel a pending arrest warrant against the campaigner.

British prosecutors are opposing the dropping of the arrest warrant. Another route to secure his exit from the embassy under the garb of diplomatic immunity was also lost when he was recently denied diplomatic status by the United Kingdom government.

Judge Arbuthnot added she would make her ruling on the arrest warrant on February 6.

Assange sought political asylum in the embassy in June 2012, after a failed legal battle to prevent his extradition to Sweden.

In court, CPS lawyer Aaron Watkins said it would be "absurd" if a defendant were to be effectively rewarded for managing to evade proceedings for sufficiently long that existing court proceedings happened to fall away.

He said Mr Assange's lawyers were simply trying to look at British laws and then construct an argument that would allow their client to walk free from the embassy.

British police have said the charge of skipping bail was a much less serious offence than rape, but he could still face up to a year in jail if convicted.

British police spent millions over several years monitoring the Ecuadorean embassy around the clock in the hope of arresting Assange.

To some, Assange is a cyber hero who exposed government abuses of power.