UN panel finds Julian Assange's 'detention' in UK as illegal

February 4, 2016

STOCKHOLM: The UN panel hearing the petition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is staying in the Ecuadorean embassy in London under asylum to avoid arrest, has concluded that he is being "arbitrarily detained" in the UK. An warrant was issued by Sweden against him in sexaul assault cases in 2010. He had subsequently complained to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that he is being "arbitrarily detained" in the UK as he cannot leave the embassy without being detained by the Met police for extradition.

The Swedish foreign ministry sources confirmed on Thursday the UN finding on Thursday. The panel is to make the formal announcement of its verdict on Friday.

Assange had sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012 to avoid arrest by London police to be extradited to Sweden in connection with years old sexual assault cases against him there which he has denied. (SEE: Who is Julian Assange?)

Anticipating a decision against them by the UN panel, the Swedish prosecutors said the UN decision would have "no formal impact" on the case. The UK Govt also said the UN ruling will have no bearing on legality of the warrant.

Earlier on Thursday, apparently in response to the leaked report, Assange said that his passport should be returned immediately and arrest warrant canccelled if the verdict is in his favour else he will give himself up to the Met police on Friday when the formal announcement of the UN decision will be made. He indicated that he has no further plans to defend himself.

Wikileaks posted Assange statement on Twitter: "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."

He also apprehends that the US too will seek his custody as the US Govt secrets were among a legion of State secrets he brought to light.

The arrest warrant was issued by Sweden in 2010 and he claimed asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy. The UK Supreme Court had okayed his extradition. Assange made the complaint to the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2014 alleging "arbitrarily detained" because if he leaves the embassy he would be arrested. The panel is scheduled to announce its verdict on Friday.

"The UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden." said the Swedish foreign ministry in a statement, BBC reported. The UN panel's decision "differs from that of the Swedish authorities," the statement added.

LISTEN TO A VIDEO: Is any UN opinion to be issued tomorrow legally binding?

SEE: What is UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention?

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