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Julian Assange in new bid to cancel UK arrest warrant

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will on Tuesday find out whether the British arrest warrant hanging over him is to be cancelled, potentially paving the way for him to leave Ecuador’s London embassy.

Assange has been holed up in the embassy since 2012, dodging a European arrest warrant and extradition to Sweden over a 2010 probe into rape and sexual assault allegations against him.

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Sweden dropped its investigation last year.

But British police are still seeking to arrest him for failing to surrender to a court after violating his bail terms during his unsuccessful battle against extradition.

Assange’s legal team has asked a British court to cancel the warrant, but a judge last week dismissed his claims that the document was rendered null-and-void because there was no longer any underlying crime.

“I’m not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn,” Judge Emma Arbuthnot told a court in London, explaining that Assange had breached his bail conditions in 2012.

But she said she would rule on Tuesday on another application from Assange’s lawyers asking her to consider whether it would be in the “public interest” to keep the warrant in place.

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The former hacker fears that arrest by British authorities could lead to him being extradited to the United States over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year said his arrest was a “priority”.

Assange wrote on Twitter that his latest legal argument hinged on an alleged “cover-up” by the British government to keep him detained.

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– ‘Severe punishment’ –

He highlighted a Guardian report which quoted emails sent by Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to Swedish counterparts in 2012, urging them not to drop their application for a European arrest warrant.

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In the emails, a CPS lawyer apparently commented on a 2012 article saying that Sweden was dropping the case by writing: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!”

Swedish prosecutors told the CPS in 2013 that they “felt obliged” to lift the warrant, but only announced last year that it had finally been dropped.

The CPS also admitted it destroyed emails relating to the case after the lawyer handling the British response retired in 2014.

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Ecuador’s foreign ministry said it wants to reach a solution with Britain that satisfies both sides and respects Assange’s human rights.

Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers said his client 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 told court.

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

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Assange only very rarely emerges onto the balcony of the embassy building, citing concerns for his personal safety, but he frequently takes part in media conferences and campaigns via video link.

Ecuador in December granted citizenship to the Australian-born Assange, and asked Britain to recognise him as a diplomat, in an unsuccessful attempt to provide him with immunity and usher him out of the embassy without the threat of arrest.

But London swiftly rejected the move.

“Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice,” the British government said.

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Everyone is baffled by Trump’s rambling rant about flushing toilets ’10 times, 15 times’

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Another day, another truly baffling series of words coming from President Donald Trump’s mouth.

Speaking at a White House meeting on Friday about small business and regulation, Trump went on one of his trademark riffs, touching on a number of subjects with the clarity of a muddy puddle. He seemed to be referring to a series of complaints that have been raised over the years about various consumer product regulations (a favorite topic of Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky) but without making a coherent point about any of them.

Read the whole stream of consciousness rant to get a sense of what it was like:

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Adam Schiff pushes Pence to declassify aide’s secret information — implying it might be embarrassing or illegal

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House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent a letter on Friday to Vice President Mike Pence urging him to declassify the entirety of his Sept. 18 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky for use in the impeachment inquiry.

Though the vice president’s office, along with the rest of the administration, has stonewalled the impeachment inquiry’s requests for documents, Schiff’s committee obtained information about the Sept. 18 call through Jennifer Williams, a Pence aide who has already testified. Initially, Schiff explained, Williams testified about Pence’s call and did not assert that any part of it was classified. When she testified publicly, however, she said Pence’s office had since determined that the call was classified. She later sent the committee a “supplemental submission” after reviewing “materials” that refreshed her memory about the call — and it’s that supplemental submission that Schiff would like to see declassified.

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Photo surfaces showing Eric Trump in Ukraine as investigations into the Trump Org intensify: report

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Photographic evidence has surfaced of the President's second son in Ukraine as Congress and prosecutors continue their investigation into the White House and Trump Organization.

A photo was posted Friday by Democratic strategist Scott Dworkin.

Here’s a picture I found of Eric Trump in Ukraine. Eric Trump’s Ukrainian ties need to be investigated by Congress NOW. pic.twitter.com/PeZd5TkBI4

— Scott Dworkin (@funder) December 6, 2019

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