Julian Assange: UN ‘rules in favour of WikiLeaks founder over unlawful detention in UK’

February 4, 2016 in News by RBN

Independent | Serina Sandhu

A UN panel considering the alleged “unlawful detention” of Julian Assange has reportedly ruled in favour of the WikiLeaks founder.

Assange was granted political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden. He is wanted there for questioning over allegations of sexual assault but he denies the claims.

In 2014 he filed a complaint against the UK and Sweden and said he was being “arbitrarily detained” in the Embassy as he could not leave without being arrested.

It is believed that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – which was considering Assange’s request for relief – has ruled in his favour, according to the BBC. The decision is due to be published on Friday.

On Thursday, Assange said he would accept arrest by UK police if the panel ruled against him. The 44-year-old said he would leave the Embassy on Friday.

“Should the UN announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the United Kingdom and Sweden, I shall exit the Embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal,” Assange said in a statement.

However, he added that he expected his passport to be returned and further attempts to arrest him to be blocked if “the state parties [were] found to have acted unlawfully”.

In December 2010, Assange was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault in Sweden and his extradition was ordered.

Failing to surrender for removal to Sweden in 2012 after seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy means he is subject to arrest by the Metropolitan Police.

The Met says it maintains this position.

In October 2015, the Met Police stood down the 24/7 police presence outside the Embassy and said “should [Assange] leave the Embassy the [Metropolitan Police Service] will make every effort to arrest him”.

A spokesman from the government said opinions from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention would not be pre-empted.

“We have been consistently clear that Mr Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy.

“An allegation of rape is still outstanding and a European Arrest Warrant in place, so the UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden,” he said.

The Australian fears Sweden will extradite him to authorities in the US where he could be put on trial over the activities of the WikiLeaks website, which has published thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents.

In 2010, WikiLeaks published a classified US military video which showed an attack by Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad three years earlier.

It was followed by the release of thousands of documents regarding the US-led military campaign in Afghanistan.