Assange isn't leaving the Ecuadorian embassy anytime soon

5 2016 shows Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange coming out onto the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy to address the media in central London. Ben Stansali  AFP

Lawyers Say Assange Warrant is Worthless, Court to Decide

A British judge on Tuesday ruled the arrest warrant against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was still valid.

Lawyers for Assange had argued that since Sweden is no longer actively pursuing Assange, the warrant had "lost its purpose" and had "no status".

Sweden dropped its investigation previous year, but British police are still seeking to arrest Assange for failing to surrender to a court after violating bail terms during his unsuccessful battle against extradition. The case against him was dropped last May, but British authorities say Assange is still wanted for skipping bail when he fled to the embassy over five years ago.

Arbuthnot said that on February 13 she will rule on a request to have the entire United Kingdom case against Assange dropped.

Should she rule in Assange's favour next Tuesday, it remains unlikely however that he will leave the embassy immediately.

"I am not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn", said judge Emma Arbuthnot, the chief magistrate of England and Wales.

Swedish authorities a year ago dropped the charges against him because of the passage of time.

However, Assange suspects there is a secret US grand jury indictment against him for WikiLeaks' publication of leaked classified American documents, and that American authorities will seek his extradition.

But Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Aaron Watkins told the court it would be "absurd" if a defendant was effectively rewarded for managing to evade proceedings for sufficiently long that they fell away.

A suspicious package was sent to Ecuador's embassy in London on Tuesday, local authorities in the United Kingdom said.

One British judge may decide Assange is now safe from arrest over his skipped bail.

Assange's defenders call him a freedom fighter who's being persecuted for telling the truth. She said the Ecuadorean government is seeking a "dignified and just" solution in his case with the British government.

However, a "covert plan" to arrest Assange should he leave his cramped quarters in the building has remained in place.

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