Julian Assange asks court to drop arrest warrant

PAWill Julian Assange walk free today

Mark Summers told the court that the bail arrest warrant had "lost its objective and its function" when Sweden withdrew the European Arrest Warrant.

Mr Assange, 46, has been holed up in the red brick building since 2012 after skipping bail to avoid extradition to Sweden over an allegation of rape, which he denies.

Assange, who has been holed up inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, has launched an appeal at Westminster Magistrates Court to have his United Kingdom arrest warrant rescinded.

Aaron Watkins of the Crown Prosecution Service argued Friday, however, that dropping the warrant for Assange's arrest would mean that the WikiLeaks founder would essentially be "rewarded with effective immunity" for evading the law.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, the judge who is now also presiding over the extradition trial of liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya - the next hearing date for which remains uncertain, reserved her judgement in the Assange case after a hearing on Friday.

As proceedings in Sweden over rape allegations have now been dropped, they believe the British arrest warrant has lost its goal.

"I'm particularly conscious there are some medical issues referred to in your submission", the judge said.

The court heard that Assange was suffering from a bad tooth, a frozen shoulder and depression.

He had feared Sweden would hand him over to the USA to face prosecution over WikiLeaks' publication of classified military and diplomatic documents, one of the largest information leaks in American history.

"We say it's lost its goal and its function", he said.

British police spent millions over several years monitoring the Ecuadorean embassy around the clock in the hope of arresting Assange.

British police have said the charge of skipping bail is a much less serious offence than rape, but he could still face up to a year in jail if convicted. "The government of Ecuador recently requested diplomatic status for Assange here in the UK".

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