Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, is arbitrarily held in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, the UN’s Group on Arbitrary Detention said earlier on Thursday.
Mr Assange took asylum in the embassy in 2012, after Sweden issued an international warrant for sexual abuse. He has always said the sexual abuse was a pretext to extradite him to the U.S. The real reason, in his words, was the reveal of top-secret files in the Wikileaks affair.
The UN panel, whose work will be published on Friday, states: “Mr Assange has been deprived of his liberty in an arbitrary manner for an unacceptable length of time.”
Mr Assange’s lawyers instantly asked the UK to respect the sentence, unless legally unbinding, and free their assisted. The UN Human Rights account also tweeted a video explaining why the UN’s verdict should be binding.
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) February 4, 2016
The UK always said Julian Assange would be arrested if he had left the embassy. Earlier this morning, a government spokeperson reported to the BBC: “Mr Assange is voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy. We continue to have a legal obligation to extradite him.”
The Swedish government is on the same opinion. Anna Ekber, spokeperson for Sweden, told the Guardian: “The working group’s view differs from that of Swedish authorities.”
On Twitter, Julian Assange did not break his silence that lasts since April 2013. Thousands of messages of solidarity came as the news broke out.
The Wikileaks page has tweeted a recent message of Julian Assange saying he would accept the UN’s decision and expects the return of his passport.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) February 4, 2016
Sub-edited by Katy Scott