Europe

Julian Assange is being arbitrarily held, UN panel to say

A UN panel has ruled in favour of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after he complained he was “arbitrarily detained”, the BBC understands.

Mr Assange claimed asylum in London’s Ecuadorean embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex assault claims, which he denies.

The Met Police says Mr Assange would be arrested if he does leave the embassy.

He earlier said his passport should be returned and his arrest warrant dropped if the UN panel ruled in his favour.

In 2014, Mr Assange complained to the UN that he was being “arbitrarily detained” as he could not leave the embassy without being arrested.

The application claimed Mr Assange had been “deprived of his liberty in an arbitrary manner for an unacceptable length of time”.

The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is due to announce the findings of its investigation on Friday.

While the BBC understands the panel will find in Mr Assange’s favour, Wikileaks tweeted it was waiting for “official confirmation”.

Downing Street said the panel’s ruling would not be legally binding in the UK. A government spokesman said Mr Assange still faced one allegation of rape, while a European Arrest Warrant remained in place.

“We have been consistently clear that Mr Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy,” he added.

“The UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden.”

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