It seems that freedom from the Ecuadorian embassy may soon be a reality for Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange. Now, a British judge will rule on February 6, 2018, whether to drop an arrest warrant against Assange that has kept him confined to the Ecuadorian embassy for fear of arrest.
Assange was originally wanted as part of an investigation into a rape he is accused of committing in Sweden. After a warrant was issued for his arrest, Assange became paranoid that if he were to appear in a British court for the separate case that he was out on bail for, the British courts might extradite him to Sweden.
When he failed to appear in the court, Britain also issued a warrant for his arrest. Assange has said he is partly afraid that Sweden would hand him over to the United States to face prosecution over Wiki Leaks publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents.
Assange fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain and there he stayed for five years, much of that time was spent under close guard of the police who spent millions on surveillance of the embassy. However, last year, Swedish prosecutors dropped their investigation into the rape allegation.
Mark Summers, Assange's attorney, says that since the European Arrest Warrant was withdrawn, then the bail arrest warrant no longer applied.
"We say it’s lost its purpose and its function," Summers argued. When questioned about whether there is any chance the ruling goes in Assange's favor and he is let free, a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said, "Hypothetically yes, that would be our interpretation."
Many view Assange is a hero and a whistleblower for coming forward to expose government abuse of power, yet others say he is a criminal who undermined the security of the United States and others by exposing classified documents. British police acknowledge that skipping bail is a much less serious offense when compared to rape, but he is still facing a year in jail if he is found guilty.
Ecuador announced earlier this month it gave citizenship to Assange just hours after the British government denied his request to be given diplomatic status. If granted diplomatic immunity he would not be subject to arrest. It seems Assange will be cooped up in the embassy until at least February 6.
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