A British court has rejected a legal attempt by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to have a warrant for his arrest quashed.

Mr Assange, 46, has been holed up inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London for more than five years because he fears extradition to the United States.

If he were to leave, he would face arrest by British police for skipping bail in June 2012 by seeking refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to face an allegation of rape, which he denied.

The Swedish case has since been dropped but in the eyes of the British authorities Mr Assange remains in breach of his bail conditions.

Mr Assange has said he feared Sweden would hand him over to the US to face prosecution over the WikiLeaks publication of a large trove of classified military and diplomatic documents, which was one of the largest information leaks in US history.

Last month, his legal team applied to have his UK arrest warrant stood down.

However, the court announced his application had been rejected.

"I am not persuaded that the warrant should be withdrawn," said Judge Emma Arbuthnot, the chief magistrate of England and Wales.

After the decision, Mr Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers asked her to consider whether it would be in the public interest to continue pursuing his client for breach of bail conditions.

Judge Arbuthnot said normally such issues would only be considered if somebody were brought to court to explain their failure to surrender to bail.

Mr Summers replied that there are exceptional circumstances.

The judge said she would issue a further ruling on 13 February on whether the arrest warrant for Mr Assange for breaching his bail conditions should be kept in place.

His lawyers made a new application asking her to consider whether it is in the "public interest" to maintain it.