Europe

Assange 'surprised' by ruling to uphold UK arrest warrant

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The warrant was issued in 2012 after he allegedly breached bail conditions by seeking asylum in Ecuador's London embassy.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his appeal to have his UK arrest warrant overturned.

On Tuesday afternoon (local time), at the Westminster Magistrates Court, Judge Emma Arbuthnot found that Assange's argument to have his arrest warrant dropped was not in the public interest.

"I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years," she said.

Judge Arbuthnot rejected all five of Assange's legal arguments, including dismissing claims by a UN working group that he had been arbitrarily detained.

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SBS Europe Correspondent Ben Lewis is London where Julian Assange has had his appeal against an arrest warrant dismissed

The judge also rejected claims that Assange was suffering from his confinement, saying: "Mr Assange's health problems could be much worse."

Assange wrote on twitter during the proceedings.

And in response to the ruling, Assange admitted he was "surprised".

A small group of supporters stood outside the court after the ruling, chanting "Free Assange" and holding banners reading "Assange Safe Passage".

Assange has been living inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than five years, claiming the U.S. will extradite him for WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of defence and intelligence documents.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year said his arrest was a "priority".

But the judge rejected the claims, adding: "He appears to consider himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes in his favour."

Last week, Judge Arbuthnot rejected Assange's legal argument that a 2012 British warrant was no longer valid because Swedish authorities had dropped an investigation into sex-related allegations.

Assange's legal team then argued it wasn't in the public interest to pursue him for breaching bail in the UK when he was fighting Swedish extradition.

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