A UN panel has condemned the “arbitrary” detainment of Julian Assange and accused the UK and Sweden of depriving the Australian freedom fighter of his liberty.
The Australian computer-whizz, 44, faces extradition to Sweden after two women made rape claims against him and is currently holed up in London’s Ecuadorean embassy since claiming asylum there in 2012.
After making a complaint to the UN to express his concern at being unable to leave the building for three years without fear of arrest, the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention started an investigation.
The panel’s ruling, which is not legally binding in the UK and does not overturn the existing European Arrest Warrant in place, was met with indifference as the UK Foreign Office said it “changes nothing” and the Metropolitan Police confirmed it would arrest Mr Assange should he step outside the embassy.
Swedish prosecutors have also said that the panel’s findings will have “no formal impact” on their on-going investigation.
On February 4 before the ruling was finalised, Mr Assange published a statement and revealed his intention to offer himself up for arrest should the UN’s verdict not go his way, but added that if it did, he would expect “the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me.”
In 2015, Scotland yard’s costly decision to station officers outside the embassy was revealed to have run up a £12.6 million bill. However, in October of the same year it confirmed that the previous police presence would be replaced by “a number of overt and covert tactics” to arrest Assange.