The recent report by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention panel is a small victory, but means a lot to Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian agency since 2012.
Sydney Morning Herald reports that the UN human rights panel has decided that Assange is being arbitrarily detained in London. This is in violation of international law. The panel is seeking an end to the so called detention arguing that “his (Assange’s) physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected, and that he should be entitled to an enforceable right to compensation.” However, the findings by the UN panel are not legally binding.
Song-Phil Hong, who heads the panel, said that Assange has already been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty. It includes his initial arrest and later his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy.
Assange was in news for publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables. According to Sydney Morning Herald, Assange has stated repeatedly that he fears he will be deported to the U.S. if he gets arrested by the Swedish authorities for the rape accusation. He also feel that he will meet the same fate as fellow WikiLeaker Chelsea Manning. To avoid this scenario, Assange is hiding in the embassy since June 2012 to avoid a rape investigation in Sweden.
Euro News informs that Assange addressed a group of reportes after the panel findings were out. “How sweet it is. This a victory that cannot be denied. What right does this government, or the U.S. government, or the Swedish government have to deny my children their father?” he said while standing on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) February 6, 2016
British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond has rubbished the panel’s findings and said, “I reject the decision of this working group. It is a group made up of lay people and not lawyers. Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He is hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian embassy.”
“He can come out any time he chooses… But he will have to face justice in Sweden if he chooses to do so. This is frankly a ridiculous finding by the working group and we reject it,” quotes DailyMail.