Julian Assange: UK says it ‘completely rejects’ UN ruling
UK government says they will arrest Wikileaks founder if he leaves embassy
A British government spokesman on Friday: ‘We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention’. File photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters
The UK Foreign Office has said the UN working group’s decision on Julian
Assange “changes nothing” and it “completely rejects” any claim he is a victim of arbitrary detention.
Britain says it could contest the UN ruling that Wikileakers founder Julian Assange should go free from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and would be arrested if he left the embassy.
“We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention. The UK has already made clear to the UN that we will formally contest the working group’s opinion,” a British government spokesman said.
“He is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorian embassy,” the spokesman said. “An allegation of rape is still outstanding and a European Arrest Warrant in place, so the UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite him to Sweden. ”
Yesterday the UN ruled that Mr Assange should be allowed to go free from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and be awarded compensation for what amounts to a three-and-a-half-year arbitrary detention.
Mr Assange, a computer hacker who enraged the United States by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables, has been holed up in the embassy since June 2012 to avoid a rape investigation in Sweden.
Mr Assange, an Australian, appealed to the UN panel, whose decision is not binding, saying he was a political refugee whose rights had been infringed by being unable to take up asylum in Ecuador.
It ruled in his favour, although the decision was not unanimous. Three of the five members on the panel supported a decision in Mr Assange’s favour, with one dissenter and one recusing herself.
“The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers that the various forms of deprivation of liberty to which Julian Assange has been subjected constitute a form of arbitrary detention,” the group’s head, Seong-Phil Hong, said in a statement.
“(It) maintains that the arbitrary detention of Mr Assange should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected, and that he should be entitled to an enforceable right to compensation.”
Both Britain and Sweden denied that Mr Assange was being deprived of freedom, noting he had entered the embassy voluntarily.
Mr Assange (44) denies allegations of a 2010 rape in Sweden, saying the charge is a ploy that would eventually take him to the United States where a criminal investigation into the activities of WikiLeaks is still open.
Sweden said it has no such plans.
Mr Assange had said that if he lost the appeal then he would leave his cramped quarters at the embassy in the Knightsbridge area of London, though Britain said he would be arrested and extradited to Sweden as soon as he stepped outside.
Swedish prosecutors said the UN decision had no formal impact on the rape investigation under Swedish law.