A British judge upheld [ruling, PDF] an arrest warrant for Julian Assange, who has spent more than five years hiding inside Ecuador’s embassy[WP report] in London.
The WikiLeaks co-founder breached bail conditions and sought refuge at the embassy in 2012 to avoid an arrest warrant [BBC timeline] from the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office regarding two separate sexual assault claims.
Though prosecutors dropped the rape investigation into Assange last year, Judge Emma Arbuthnot stated that she is not persuaded that his current warrant for arrest should be withdrawn. Assange is still wanted [Telegraph report] for failing to appear at his bail address back in 2012.
Arbuthnot called Assange’s decision to jump bail a “determined attempt to avoid the order of the court.” She went on to say that:
He appears to consider himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes in his favor. … Having weighed up the factors for and against and considered [Assange’s attorney’s] arguments, 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 so too.
Assange’s legal team contended that it was no longer in the public interest to arrest their client for jumping bail and avoiding extradition. However, Arbuthnot rejected this argument, ruling that it was more important for her to focus on the consequences of his failure to appear and the amount of resources police have exhausted surveilling him, as well as the potential loss of the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system if she allows Assange to avoid a warrant for his arrest.