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    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

    WikiLeaks: Rejection of UN Panel Decision Would Be 'Extraordinary'

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    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange case (74)

    WikiLeaks officials have told Sputnik that all countries involved in Julian Assange’s legal status should respect the authority of the UN, following reports that a UN panel has ruled that the WikiLeaks founder’s stay in London’s Ecuadorian embassy amounts to "unlawful detention".

    WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson told Sputnik that while the group won’t be making a public statement on the matter until the official report is released on Friday, all parties should respect whatever decision the panel makes. 

    Hrafnsson said he would "fail to see" how countries involved in the matter could reject the UN panel’s ruling, saying that any acts of defiance against the UN would be "extraordinary". 

    "That is what has usually happened in the past and we would expect the same thing — but it’s all hypothetical. We expect the countries to abide by the decision, whatever it will be." 

    Assange Subject to 'Unlawful Detention': Reports 

    The comments follow reports in the BBC that the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that Assange’s three-and-a-half year stay in London’s Ecuadorian embassy was equal to "unlawful" detention. 

    The reports come after a legal challenge put forward by the Australian, who claimed that he was being "arbitrarily detained" as a result of the UK’s decision not to grant him a safe passage of travel to Ecuador, where he has been granted political asylum. 

    As a result, the 44 year-old has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012, and has not been able to leave the building since then. 

    Despite the speculation, British officials confirmed on Thursday that they would arrest Assange if he left embassy, and would extradite him to Sweden where he faces sexual assault allegations. 

    "We have been consistently clear that Mr Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy," a government spokeswoman said. 

    "An allegation of rape is still outstanding and a European Arrest Warrant in place, so the UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden." 

    Assange and his legal team say they have no objections to speaking to Swedish officials, but fear he may be extradited from Sweden to the US, with many speculating that American authorities have opened an investigation into the leaking of sensitive military documents through WikiLeaks. 

    While any decision from the UN panel is not legally binding, supporters say it will help put pressure on the UK, Sweden and possibly even Australia – where Assange is a citizen – to allow the 44-year-old a safe path of travel to Ecuador, or Australia.

    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange case (74)


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