WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his court bid to have his UK arrest warrant dropped.

Justice Emma Arbuthnot ruled today that it was in the public interest to pursue him for failing to surrender to arrest, since the warrant was issued in 2012.

Assange, 46, since then has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London and has been granted asylum. He fears that if he surrenders to Britain, he would be extradited to the United States.

Arbuthnot had dashed Assange’s hope last week when she upheld the arrest warrant.

“I’m not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn,” she said, explaining that Assange had breached his bail conditions in 2012.

Assange entered the Ecuadoran embassy in June 2012 to dodge a European arrest warrant and extradition to Sweden over a 2010 probe there into rape and sexual assault allegations.

Sweden dropped its investigation last year, but British police are still seeking to arrest Assange for failing to surrender to a court after violating his bail terms during his unsuccessful battle against extradition.

Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers had argued in court last week that the warrant had “lost its purpose and its function”.

He said Assange had been living in conditions “akin to imprisonment” and his “psychological health” has deteriorated and was “in serious peril”.

“The last five-and-a-half years that he has spent may be thought to be adequate, if not severe punishment, for the actions that he took,” Summers said.

The court heard that the 46-year-old was suffering from a bad tooth, a frozen shoulder and depression.

But prosecutor Aaron Watkins earlier called Assange’s court bid “absurd”.

“The proper approach is that when a discrete, standalone offence of failing to surrender occurs, it always remains open to this court to secure the arrest,” he said.

Assange has refused to leave the embassy, claiming he fears being extradited to the United States over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.

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