CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog

UN Says WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Is 'Arbitrarily Detained'

A United Nations panel has issued an opinion declaring that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been 'arbitrarily detained' by the governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom for the past five years. The Human Rights Council's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommended Assange's release, along with possible financial compensation, and you can read their full opinion below.

Assange has been accused of rape in Sweden, and was arrested by the UK in 2010. He has remained in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, fearing extradition to the United States for revealing classified information via WikiLeaks.

Sweet Release?

Assange was triumphant after the publication of the opinion, exclaiming, "How sweet it is!" from the balcony of the embassy. "This is a victory that cannot be denied," he said. "It is a victory of historical importance, not just for me, for my family, for my children, but for the independence of the UN system." Even so, Assange isn't exiting the embassy anytime soon.

UK authorities have publicly denounced the ruling, and Interpol issued a "red notice" regarding Assange, asserting that Swedish law enforcement still wants to question Assange about sexual misconduct allegations.

"Indefinite Procrastination"

The Working Group's full opinion is worth the read and you can find it in full below. It details all of the source material and testimony the panel used to come to its decision. Based on the finding that his deprivation of liberty was arbitrary:

"the Working Group requests the Government of Sweden and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to assess the situation of Mr. Assange, to ensure his safety and physical integrity, to facilitate the exercise of his right to freedom of movement in an expedient manner, and to ensure the full enjoyment of his rights guaranteed by the international norms on detention."

Opinion Adopted by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Concerning Julian Assange by FindLaw