Assange ‘unlawfully detained’ in UK
A UN panel has ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been “arbitrarily detained” in the UK, a media report said here today. Britain, however, has made it clear that if Assange leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London he will be arrested, as the country is under no legal obligation to follow the panel’s decision.
No official announcement has yet been made by the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Geneva but BBC Radio 4 reported that it understands the decision has been made in Assange’s favour.
The UN panel has been considering a request by Assange for a ruling. It is due to announce its findings tomorrow. Assange, 44, was granted political asylum by Ecuador, which has housed him since 2012 at its central London embassy.
The whistleblower has said he is willing to surrender to the British police if the UN panel finds that the three years he was holed up inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London does not amount to illegal detention.
In 2014, he had complained to the UN that he was being “arbitrarily detained” as he could not leave the embassy without being arrested by the British police.
The Australian national is wanted for questioning in Sweden over sex assault allegations against two women, which he denies.
WikiLeaks, founded by Assange in 2006, released 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and 250,000 diplomatic cables enraging the United States.
Assange fears being extradited to the US to be quizzed over the activities of WikiLeaks if he travels to Sweden. The UN group does not have any formal influence over the British and Swedish authorities and the UK Foreign Office said it still had an obligation to extradite Assange.
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman said on Thursday that if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London he will be arrested.
The spokesman said that any decision by a United Nations panel that is examining Assange’s appeal would not be legally binding and that an arrest warrant for Assange would be put into effect if he left the embassy.
Britain said on Thursday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had avoided arrest by fleeing to the Ecuadorian embassy and that it was under obligation to extradite him to Sweden over an outstanding rape allegation.