A couple of days back, Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, had challenged his continual detention and deprivation of liberty by the British and Swedish governments, saying he would gladly submit himself to international arrest today Friday if the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to which he had directed his complaints, found him guilty of the charges leveled against him.
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According to embattled Assange, “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.”
The UN WGAD met over Assange’s appeal and adopted Opinion No. 54/2015 which rules that the governments of Sweden and the UK have arbitrarily detained the complainant, and that both governments should release him forthwith and compensate him for his unnecessary sufferings.
The Opinion 54/2015 was dispatched by the WGAD to the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on January 22, 2016 in accordance with the Working Group’s Methods of Work.
When the group met to deliberate the matter, an Australian member of the group recused herself from the deliberations because Assange is an Australian citizen. And another member of the group insisted that the issue was outside the mandate of the Working Group because what Assange was passing through is not technically a detention.
Swedish authorities instituted investigations against Assange in 2010, charging him of sexual misconduct and an international arrest warrant issued against him on December 7 of that year. Assange was then detained for 10 days in Wandsworth Prison, after which he was subjected to house arrest for 550 days. It was during this period that he sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where the Metropolitan Police have not been able to effect his arrest.
He has remained at this embassy since August 2012, and it is from here he petitioned the UN WGAD to appeal his detention as arbitrary.
The Working Group has reached an agreement that Assange was subjected to continuous deprivation of liberty by Sweden and the UK – even against the fact that prosecutors have not established credible evidences of sexual misconduct against him.
The Working Group found that this detention is in violation of Articles 9 and 10 of the UDHR and Articles 7, 9(1), 9(3), 9(4), 10 and 14 of the ICCPR, and falls within category III as defined in its Methods of Work.
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The Working Group is therefore requesting Sweden and the UK to release the Wikileaks founder and ensure that he does not come to any physical harm, while looking into the need to grant him compensation for the arbitrary detention to which he has been subjected to for several years.