The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has announced that the editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is actually a victim of “arbitrary detention”, since he cannot leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London without fear of being arrested, according to declarations from Swedish officials. An official statement is going to be announced on Friday by the U.N.
The Australian computer programmer is being hosted at the Ecuadorian embassy because he wants to avoid extradition to Sweden, where officials accused him of rape. Assange has denied the allegations saying that it could be a tactic to take him to the U.S., where he has an open investigation as consequence of the WikiLeaks phenomenon.
In November 2010 WikiLeaks made a public release of thousands U.S. State department diplomatic cables that could be downloaded via BitTorrent, which infuriated the United States. On Wednesday, the Wikileaks founder announced on Twitter that he would accept arrest by British police if the United Nations ruled against him.
“Should the U.N. announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the UK and Sweden I shall exit the embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect or further appeal. However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have unlawfully, I expect the immediate return my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me,” said Assange on @WikiLeaks, from the Embassy of Ecuador Thursday.
A spokesman for the Swedish Foreign Ministry already said that the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained “in contravention of international commitments”.
According to Assange, his time at the Ecuadorian embassy can be translated as an arbitrary detention, since he is not able to access fundamental liberties such as sunlight, fresh air, and medical attention, Reuters said.
On the other hand, a spokesman for the British government said that Julian Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK. She added that instead he was avoiding lawful arrest for an “outstanding” allegation of rape, that would take him directly to Sweden. That being said, Swedish officials said that the U.N. declarations would not change the course of the ongoing investigations.
It is calculated that Britain has spent more than $10 million on security measures to maintain guards outside the Ecuadorian embassy. According to U.N. Human Rights, an official press release related to the legal situation of Mr. Assange is going to be issued on Friday at 9 a.m. CET.