In Brief

Assange loses initial bid to overturn UK arrest warrant

WikiLeaks founder's legal team to present fresh arguments to court next week

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lost a legal bid to have his UK arrest warrant declared invalid yesterday - but a London judge has agreed to rule on further arguments next week.

The initial ruling at Westminster Magistrates’ Court is a “blow to his fresh bid for freedom”, The Daily Telegraph says.

Assange's lawyer, Mark Summers QC, had argued that the UK arrest warrant no longer had a purpose or function, as it relates to a Swedish sex crimes investigation now concluded. Sweden dropped its case.

But UK authorities say that Assange faces arrest for jumping bail in 2012 and should not be “rewarded” for outlasting Swedish authorities.

Although Assange lost round one, his lawyers have submitted several broader arguments that his case should be discontinued on the grounds that his treatment was “not proportionate in the interests of justice”, the BBC says. The court will rule on those arguments on 13 February.

Assange has been inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London in self-imposed exile since June 2012. The 46-year-old has said he fears that if he leaves, he could be arrested and extradited to the US - and possibly Guantanamo Bay - to stand trial in connection with leaked military materials including a video showing unarmed Iraqis being gunned down by an American helicopters.

“Assange is a hero among hackers or undermines national security, depending on who you ask,” say the National Public Radio (NPR) website.

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