A United Nations human rights panel announced on Friday in Geneva that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is being unlawfully detained by UK and Swedish authorities and should be freed immediately.
Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012, where he has been residing since. Even though he voluntary went to the embassy, he has remained captive in fear that that if he leaves, he will be arrested and extradited to Sweden, where he is being accused of rape. However, he has not been charged with the crime.
The Australian citizen also feared that, once in Sweden, he would then be extradited to the U.S., where he could face legal ramifications regarding the leak of classified government documents related to the Iraq War.
The Geneva-based UN panel, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, is calling on European and Swedish authorities to let Assange go after finding he has suffered from "deprivation of liberty," and that they should offer him compensation.
"The United Nations deemed that Mr. Assange is arbitrarily detained in contravention of international commitments," spokeswoman for the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs Anna Ekberg said in a statement. "We note that the Working Group's view differs from that of the Swedish authorities."
The UK government said that it disagrees with the ruling, stating that Assange has not been under detention is a free to leave at any time. However, despite the ruling, the UK government said that Assange would still be arrested because of the arrest warrant.
Assange's lawyers filed for an application for relief back in 2014, arguing that their client was prevented from exercising his right to asylum.
"I consider the outcome in this case to be vindication," Assange said on Friday via a video webcast. "It is now the task of the United Kingdom and Sweden to implement the verdict."
Source: The New York Times
Photo: Espen Moe | Flickr