Julian Assange Asks UK Court to Drop Arrest Warrant by Invoking the Fonzie Defense

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Today, lawyers for Julian Assange asked a court in the UK to drop the warrant that’s currently standing for the WikiLeaks founder’s arrest. Their argument? It’s perhaps best summed up by the Fonz just saying “eyyyyyyyy” and walking off.

Assange’s lawyer argued that the warrant has “lost its purpose” and “has no status” because the charges of sexual assault in Sweden were dropped last year after Swedish prosecutors said they couldn’t properly conduct an investigation without access to Assange.


But it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the UK skipping bail, hiding out for over five years, and reemerging to demand that the whole matter be dismissed. Again, that appears to be the Fonzie defense: Too cool to be prosecuted. Eyyyyyyyyy.

The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over five years now, and he’d really, really like to leave. Assange is actually free to leave anytime he likes, but British police will almost certainly arrest him the moment he steps foot outside. There’s still an active arrest warrant for Assange since he skipped bail in 2012 on sexual assault charges in Sweden.

The prosecution for the Westminster Magistrates Court argued in a hearing today that Assange “was under a duty to surrender and he failed to surrender. Therefore, a warrant stands.”

The charges against Assange in Sweden were dropped back in May, though Swedish prosecutors made it clear that if he ever left the embassy they’d still want to talk with him. And so would the British police, who don’t take too kindly to people skipping bail and hiding.

The prosecution today said that it would be “absurd” for Assange “to be effectively rewarded with immunity from being dealt with by having managed to evade proceedings for sufficiently long enough for them to fall away.”

Ecuador has grown frustrated with housing Assange for the past five and half years, and the president of that country recently called the silver-haired shit-stirrer “more than a nuisance.” The country recently granted Assange citizenship with the hopes of granting him diplomatic immunity. But the UK says that it won’t recognize diplomatic status for the fugitive.


Assange fears that if he’s handed over to British or Swedish authorities he might be extradited to the United States for his role in the release of various government documents. The most important and noble of those releases being a 2007 video that was obtained by Chelsea Manning which showed American forces murdering civilians and journalists in Iraq.

Other releases have been far less valiant and recently released communications show a concerted effort to coordinate with the Trump regime in order to get immunity for Assange. The WikiLeaks head even went so far as to advise President Trump’s son not to concede the US election if he lost in 2016.


Today’s hearing was adjourned before a final decision was made and will resume on Tuesday, February 6th. We’ll see if Assange’s lawyers can come up with a better argument than eyyyyyy in the next couple of weeks.

[Brett Mason and BBC and Bloomberg]


Matt Novak is a senior writer at Gizmodo and founder of Paleofuture.com. He's writing a book about the movies U.S. presidents watched at the White House, Camp David, and on Air Force One.



Reader’s guide for young people: Happy Days, an immensely popular tv series in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, was more or less the tv version of the 1973 movie American Graffiti. Fonzie was intended as a tertiary character interacting with lead character Ritchie and his friends. Over the first few seasons actor Henry Winkler literally stole the show, in essence changing it to Fonzie and His Friends. Ron Howard left the show after season 7 because he was no longer the lead.

Fun fact: Fonzie was always supposed to wear a leather jacket, but at first the network wouldn’t let him because they thought it made him look like a hood. In early episodes he wore a fabric windbreaker, but the producers argued that the leather jacket was motorcycle safety equipment, so the network relented and allowed Fonzie to wear leather, but only when he appeared with his bike. Thereafter, the bike was in every Fonzie scene.

Funner fact: Winkler stipulated in his contract that he would not be shown combing his hair; he considered it a cliche for that type of character. An early script called for it and the director insisted, so Winkler addressed the mirror, lifted his comb, saw that his hair was perfect and left; it was an instant classic scene and became one of Fonzie’s signature moves.

Funnest fact: Henry Winkler is an avid fly fisherman. That’s right, the Fonz fishes.