On Friday, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) said that WikiLeaks founder Assange had been arbitrarily detained in London by Sweden and the UK since his arrest in December 2010.
An expert panel at the WGAD called on Swedish and British authorities to end Assange’s deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation.
The panel found that the detention was arbitrary because Assange was initially held in isolation at Wandsworth Prison, and because a lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office in its investigations resulted in his lengthy loss of liberty.
Assange has been under house arrest in Ecuador’s London embassy after being granted asylum by Ecuador in 2012. He was arrested in 2010 in London under a warrant from Sweden over allegations that he had raped two women in that country.
Assange tweeted yesterday that he was prepared to turn himself in if the UN ruled against his claim of being arbitrarily detained.
While today’s announcement will certainly come as a relief to Assange, he may not be completely out of the woods yet. the BBC reports that Swedish prosecutors had said the UN panel’s decision would have “no formal impact” on its investigation and British police said he still faces arrest.
➤ Julian Assange arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the UK, UN expert panel finds [United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner]