Julian Assange: UN Panel Calls on U.K. and Sweden to End WikiLeaks Founder's "Deprivation of Liberty"

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Julian Assange in 2010

Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012.

A United Nations panel on Friday ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arbitrarily detained and called on authorities in the U.K. and Sweden to release him immediately. 

The UN panel also said Assange should be offered compensation for his time being confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been since he sought refuge there in 2012, fearing he would be arrested by the British police and extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault charges.

Assange had said he would turn himself over to U.K. authorities if the UN ruled against him. Friday's decision means he will likely remain at the Ecuadorian embassy.

The UN ruling carries no legal force in the U.K. or Sweden. The U.K. still plans to arrest and extradite Assange, who has argued that if he agrees to go to Sweden he could then be extradited to the U.S., where he could face charges of treason due to WikiLeaks’ publication of military and diplomatic documents.

In 2014, Assange filed a complaint with the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

“Should the UN announce ... 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,” Assange had said Thursday. "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.”

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