Ecuador said on Tuesday, Feb. 6 that it would continue to support Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after he lost one legal bid to have a UK arrest warrant against him quashed.
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno called Assange an “inherited problem” but said Ecuador had made a commitment “to continue protecting the life of Mr. Assange, which we think is in danger.”
After the UK court ruled against him, Assange immediately launched a legal bid to have the British authorities halt any action against him on public interest grounds.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot said she would give her decision on Feb. 13.
A ruling in Assange’s favour could pave the way for him to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been holed up for over five years.
Assange, 46, entered the embassy in an apartment in the wealthy district of Knightsbridge to avoid extradition to Sweden to face an allegation of rape, which he denied. The Swedish case has since been dropped.
He has said he feared Sweden would hand him over to the United States to face prosecution over Wikileaks’ publication of leaked U.S. military and diplomatic documents.
As things stand, if he were to leave the embassy, he would face arrest by British police for breaching bail conditions when he fled there instead of handing himself in to be sent to Sweden.
Judge Arbuthnot rejected a legal argument to have the arrest warrant against him quashed on the basis that with the Swedish case dropped there was no longer any justification for it.
Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers then launched a separate argument that even if his client were arrested and brought to court, it would not be in the interests of justice to take any further action.
He said Assange had had “reasonable grounds” for fleeing to the embassy in 2012 because of his fear that he would be ultimately be extradited to the United States.