The United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has ruled that Julian Assange has been “arbitrarily detained” in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. According to a lawyer representing Assange, this could mean that he’s a free man.
A spokeswoman for the Swedish foreign ministry has confirmed the BBC’s scoop of the day. A UN report looking into a complaint made by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has deemed that he has been “arbitrarily detained” in an embassy in London.
As reported by Sky News, ministry spokeswoman Katarina Byrenius Roslund said:
Their (the UN) working group has made the judgement that Assange has been arbitrarily detained in contravention of international commitments.
Furthermore, a lawyer representing Assange told the news agency Associated Press that Sweden has no option but to revoke an arrest warrant if the UN panel ruled in favor of Assange.
The Wikileaks founder is wanted by prosecutors in Sweden where he faces the charge of sexual assault, an allegation that he denies.
Earlier today, Assange released a statement prior to the verdict, stating what he would do if he lost the case and what he expects if he won the ruling.
Should the UN announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the United Kingdom and Sweden, I shall exit the embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal. However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me.
As Hacked reported earlier in the day, there were rumblings that the UN panel’s ruling would have no legal grounds nor are the verdicts legally binding in Britain. However, an aptly-timed reveal by the UN Human Rights office confirmed Assange’s lawyer’s assertion.
Christophe Peschoux, a UN office and a member of the Working Group stated:
We, the Working Group, conclude that in case X or Y, this person is deprived because his internationally recognized rights have been violated, then the decision (ruling) is indirectly, but still legally binding on the relevant authorities.
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) February 4, 2016
While the official ruling will be released tomorrow, it remains to be seen if Sweden will revoke the arrest warrant. If that were to happen, it would mean that Assange could walk free tomorrow, without the hanging uncertainty of arrest.
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