In a judgment published yesterday, the Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) at Westminster Magistrates Court, Emma Arbuthnot, upheld a previous judgement that Julian Assange had breached his bail conditions and that the warrant for his arrest should remain.
In November 2010, a European Arrest Warrant was issued for Mr Assange to be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault and rape. Mr Assange denied the claims and expressed concerns that Sweden would extradite him to the United States of America for his role in founding WikiLeaks. He surrendered himself to UK police in December 2010 and was held for 10 days before being released on bail. Mr Assange unsuccessfully challenged the extradition proceedings and in June 2012 he breached his bail conditions and sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. An arrest warrant was issued for Mr Assange in relation to breaching bail.
In May 2017 Sweden dropped their investigations into Mr Assange and applied to revoke the European Arrest warrant. However, a warrant for his arrest in the UK remained for his failure to adhere to the terms of his bail.
The judgment published yesterday dismissed claims from Mr Assange’s lawyer, Mark Summers QC, that his arrest for failing to answer bail was no longer in the public interest. Mr Assange was not present at the hearing.
Mr Summers also argued that his client had been living in conditions similar to imprisonment. The Senior District Judge rejected this, pointing out that Mr Assange was free to leave the Ecuadorian embassy at any point and that his living conditions were sufficiently free that his time there could not be considered imprisonment.
Gherson did not act for Mr Assange but has acted in several high profile extradition cases including those involving the US. In 2015 Gherson secured one of the first ever decisions on ‘political motivation’ in relation to an extradition request from the USA to Austria for Dmitry Firtash. Firtash remains in Austria pending further legal proceedings.
Anyone who faces or fears extradition to the US or elsewhere should not hesitate to contact a member of our extradition team.
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