UN Panel Rules in Favour of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Over "Unlawful Detention" (Update)

By Gerald Lynch on at

Update: 9.08am, 4/02/16
The BBC understands that the UN panel considering WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange's detention at the Ecuadorian embassy has ruled in his favour.

Assange, who has claimed he is being "arbitrarily detained" since 2012 as he cannot leave the embassy without being arrested, sought support from the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. It's expert panel, after investigating evidence in the UK and Sweden, has apparently sided with the whistleblower – it's full report will be announced tomorrow.

However, though respected, the panel has no formal influence over local or Swedish authorities, meaning the UK Foreign Office still has an obligation to arrest and extradite Assange, should he leave the embassy compound. Seems Assange had better get comfortable again for a while.

The original story follows.

After three-and-a-half years cooped up in the Ecuadorian embassy, whistleblower Julian Assange is finally ready to accept surrender. Believing "there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal", the WikiLeaks founder will turn himself over to British police on Friday, should a UN investigation into his house arrest rule that he is not being illegally detained.

Though not charged with any offence, Assange has been sought for questioning in Sweden in relation to allegations of sexual assault brought by two women. Though Swedish authorities said back in August 2015 that they would no longer be looking into two counts of alleged sexual molestation and one of unlawful coercion, an allegation of rape still stands. A deal was struck just last month to have Assange questioned at the embassy.

However, the threat of extradition still stands and, considering Assange's WikiLeaks activity around the publication of the Afghan war diary and United States diplomatic cables is seen as treasonous by many in the upper echelons of the US government and military, Assange remains fearful of further extradition to the USA. Should that happen, it's hard to imagine him avoiding jail time, even if the alleged sexual offences prove false.

For Assange, all now rests with the United Nation's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the ruling they are due to give on Friday morning.

Offering a statement up through the WikiLeaks Twitter account, Assange said:

“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.

“However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me.” [Guardian]

Image Credit: Wikipedia