London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange yesterday said he will surrender to the British police if a UN panel rules that the three years he was holed up inside the Ecuadorean Embassy here does not amount to illegal detention.
This file photo taken on August 19, 2012, shows Wikileaks founder Julian Assange addressing the media and his supporters from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Pic/AFP
“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,” he said. “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,” he said in a statement issued by WikiLeaks on Twitter.
Assange (44) was granted political asylum by Ecuador, which has housed him since 2012 at its central London embassy. He lives in a small room at the embassy. He took refuge there to avoid extradition to Sweden where two women have accused him of sexual assault. He denies the allegations.
In 2014, Assange complained to the UN that he was being “arbitrarily detained” as he could not leave the embassy without being arrested.
The UK Foreign Office, on the other hand, claimed Assange had voluntarily avoided lawful detention, saying it still had an obligation to extradite him.
The UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is due to announce the findings of its investigation into Assange’s case today.
Panel rules detention illegal
A UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has ruled that Julian Assange’s confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London amounts to illegal detention, Sweden’s foreign ministry said yesterday.
“We can only note that the working panel has come to another conclusion than Swedish judicial authorities,” a ministry spokeswoman told AFP, a day before the panel was to formally publish its report. However, the Swedish prosecution authority has yet to comment on the panel’s report.