Julian Assange lost one legal bid Tuesday that could have dramatically altered the long-running saga that has compelled the controversial WikiLeaks founder to take refuge in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for more than five years.
But his case continues, with more hearings and court dates to come.
A British judge rejected his lawyers’ first argument that an existing arrest warrant against Assange should be withdrawn because the Swedish charges that underlie it have been shelved.
Lawyers for Assange argued in a London courtroom that the outstanding British warrant, issued after Assange skipped bail, had “lost its purpose and function” following Sweden’s decision last year to drop an investigation into assault allegations.
After being shot down on the first motion to quash the arrest warrant because the Swedish assault investigation has been dropped, Assange’s lawyers pivoted and argued that British authorities should stop pursuing him for violating his bail terms because it was no longer in the public interest.
The judge agreed that Assange’s legal team could make a public-interest argument and set another hearing on the matter for Feb. 13.
Assange has been staying – virtually imprisoned, he says – at the Ecuadoran Embassy for five years.
If he steps off embassy grounds, he faces arrest for skipping bail in 2012 when he sought refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning about alleged crimes.
Last year, Sweden dropped its investigation into allegations against Assange because it was unable to get access to him.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Karla Adam, William Booth