Julian Assange arrest warrant still valid, court rules

An arrest warrant against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is still valid, Westminster Magistrates' Court has ruled.

Arguments were made by Assange's legal representatives that the warrant should be dismissed as it had "lost its purpose and function" following an investigation into a sex-related allegation being dropped last year.

Assange is still living in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has resided for more than five years out of fear he is would be extradited to the US for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks.

The outstanding warrant stands from 2012, which is in connections with the Swedish investigation, even through it was closed down a year ago.

Lawyers for Assange say the UK arrest warrant serves no legitimate purpose, but has been maintained anyway.

Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot said at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday that she was not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn, despite the argument he still has no purpose.

In front of a packed public gallery, the judge said the offence of not surrendering to bail was a standalone offence under the Bail Act.

She said: "On a straight forward reading of the section:1. Mr Assange has been bailed.2. He has failed to surrender.3. If he has no reasonable cause he will be guilty of an offence.

"Once at court, the defendant would be given the opportunity to explain his failure to surrender and that is when Mr Assange would be able to place before the court his reasonable cause for failing to do so."

In a string of tweets posted following the decision, Assange dismissed "wall to wall fake news stating stating the government won today's hearing".

"Judge has ruled against the first technical point the court now expected to hear & decide on the other points," he said in another tweet