Julian Assange’s lawyers tried to have his arrest warrant dismissed because Sweden dropped its extradition request last May. However, a UK judge reaffirmed the warrant, which exposes him to the possibility of a secret US extradition request
GREGORY WILPERT: A British judge has upheld the arrest warrant against Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. The ruling came in response to Assange’s request to dismiss the warrant because the basis for it, an extradition request from Sweden, was withdrawn in May 2017. Swedish prosecutor’s closed the case after deciding that a sexual assault investigation could not be pursued.
The British judge though, says Assange still needs to answer for defying bail when he sought refuge in Ecuador’s London Embassy back when the extradition request was in place.
JENNIFER ROBINSON: Mr. Assange remains willing to answer to British justice, in relation to any argument about breach of bail, but not at the expense of facing injustice in America. This case is and has always been about the risk of extradition to the United States and that risk remains real. Nobody can credibly deny that risk. We’ve heard the head of the CIA declare Wikileaks a hostile…intelligence agency. We’ve heard the US Attorney General say that prosecuting Julian Assange is a priority. In these circumstances it is time to provide an assurance against extradition so that this untenable situation can end.
GREGORY WILPERT: When Sweden dropped the case, filmmaker John Pilger argued why he thinks the bail violation should be dropped.
JOHN PILGER: Well, London’s Metropolitan Police have been surrounding the Embassy in some numbers until recently and they want their man. But he did break his bail, there’s no question about that. And that is not a very serious crime, I think it’s up to a year and probably a few months in prison at most or a fine.
The problem with that is that once Julian Assange is in any kind of custody, first he was very fearful and rightly so of being in custody in Sweden. But custody in London would mean that the US then would have an opportunity to prepare an extradition application to the British courts.
GREGORY WILPERT: Doctors say Assange suffers from a variety of physical and mental health problems but cannot be treated in the confined quarters of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has been living in asylum for more than five years. In an effort to resolve the standoff, last month Ecuador granted Assange Ecuadorian citizenship and gave him diplomatic status, which would have given him immunity from prosecution. However, the British government refuses to recognize Assange’s diplomatic status. And so, after more than seven years in detention, most of it inside the Embassy, Assange’s ordeal continues.