UN rules in favour of Assange over ‘unlawful detention’

London, Feb 4 (IANS) A UN panel considering the alleged “unlawful detention” of Julian Assange has reportedly ruled in favour of the WikiLeaks founder.

Assange claimed asylum in London’s Ecuadorean embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex assault allegaions, which he denies.

The London Metropolitan Police said Assange will be arrested if he leaves the embassy, BBC reported.

Swedish prosecutors said the UN panel’s decision would have “no formal impact” on its ongoing investigation.

Assange earlier said his passport should be returned and his arrest warrant revoked if the UN panel ruled in his favour.

In 2014, Assange complained to the UN that he was being “arbitrarily detained” as he could not leave the embassy without being arrested.

The application claimed Assange had been “deprived of his liberty in an arbitrary manner for an unacceptable length of time”.

The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was due to announce the findings of its investigation on Friday.

Wikileaks earlier tweeted it was waiting for “official confirmation” of the UN panel’s decision.

Downing Street said the panel’s ruling would not be legally binding in Britain.

A government spokesman said Assange still faced one allegation of rape, while a European Arrest Warrant remained in place.

“We have been consistently clear that Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by Britain but was, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy,” he added.

“The Britain continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Assange to Sweden.”

The Swedish foreign ministry said in a statement that it noted the UN panel’s decision “differs from that of the Swedish authorities”.

The statement added the legal process for Assange’s case would be handled in court by Swedish prosecutors.

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