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Assange arrest warrant upheld as judge blasts absence of ‘courage’

A JUDGE has upheld the warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange for skipping bail, saying he should have the courage to face court.

The WikiLeaks founder’s legal team had argued it was no longer in the public interest to pursue him for failing to answer bail at a police station as he fought extradition to Sweden in 2012.

Handing down her judgment before a packed courtroom at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot said she was not persuaded by the argument.

She said: ‘I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years.

‘Defendants on bail up and down the country, and requested persons facing extradition, come to court to face the consequences of their own choices.

‘He should have the courage to do the same.

‘It is certainly not against the public interest to proceed.’

Holed up: The Ecuadorian Embassy in London where Assange resides PICTURE: EPA

Mr Assange claimed his case had exposed ‘improper conduct’ by the Crown Prosecution Service, and his barrister Mark Summers QC had claimed emails showed a CPS lawyer apparently persuading the Swedish prosecutor not to drop the case.

He has been living inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for more than five years, fearing extradition to the United States for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks if he leaves.

He accused the UK of a ‘cover-up’ to keep him detained, and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson said the Government had refused to confirm or deny whether there is an extradition request from the US.

Judge Arbuthnot last week rejected his legal team’s argument that the warrant was no longer valid because an investigation by the Swedish authorities into a sex-related allegation had been dropped.