London : In a setback to Julian Assange, a British court on Tuesday ruled that an UK arrest warrant against the Wikileaks founder was still valid, signalling that he could be arrested if he tries to leave the Ecuadorian embassy here where he has been holed up since 2012.
A handful of supporters waving “Free Assange” banners had gathered outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London in anticipation of the ruling in the high-profile case involving the 46-year-old Australian national.
But the judge ruled that it was “not uncommon” for a warrant for failing to surrender to remain valid when there were no underlying proceedings pending.
Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, the judge who is currently also presiding over the extradition trial of liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, had reserved her judgement in the Assange case last month.
“Once at court, a defendant will be given an opportunity to put an argument for reasonable cause. And that is when Assange will be able to place that before the court. I’m not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn,” she noted on Tuesday.