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Julian Assange arrest warrant stands, court rules

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A British arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is still valid, a London court ruled Tuesday.

The warrant was issued in 2012 after Assange skipped bail to seek asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy, where he has remained ever since. He did so to avoid extradition to Sweden on charges of rape and sexual assault.

Though the Swedish charges have since been dropped, Assange still faces arrest for breaching his bail conditions in the U.K.

Assange denied that his arrest warrant had been fully upheld, saying on Twitter that it was “fake news” and he had “only lost the first of four points.”

Assange’s lawyer told a judge that the warrant had “lost its purpose and its function” due to the dropping of the Swedish charges. His defense papers asserted that he has been living in conditions “akin to imprisonment” and that his “physical and psychological health have deteriorated and are in serious peril.”

Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said she was “not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn.”

Even if Assange’s warrant had been dropped, he would still face the possibility of extradition to the U.S. to face charges related to Wikileaks’ leaking of thousand of secret documents. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in 2017 that arresting him is a “priority.”

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