The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appearing at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last May.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

LONDON — A British judge upheld an arrest warrant for Julian Assange on Tuesday, a significant setback for him after five and a half years of evading the authorities by living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Before a packed London courtroom, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected the points made by Mr. Assange’s lawyer, stating that he was not a prisoner, and in fact could walk free at any time to meet his legal fate, and that his living conditions were nothing like those of a prison.

“He is a man who wants to impose his terms on the course of justice,” she said, and “he wants justice only when it’s in his favor.”

If the judge had voided the warrant, Mr. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, might have left the embassy, but that was far from certain. The United States and British governments have never publicly ruled out the existence of a secret request to extradite him to the United States, where he could face prosecution for publishing classified documents.


Jennifer Robinson, center, a lawyer representing Julian Assange, speaking to reporters outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London this month.

John Stillwell/Press Association, via Associated Press

WikiLeaks released in 2010 a trove of government documents provided by Chelsea Manning, a United States Army analyst, which American officials said harmed national security.

In 2016, it published emails, hacked by Russian intelligence, that were damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, has said that WikiLeaks acts “like a hostile intelligence service.”

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