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UN: Assange detained unfairly, should be freed

05 February 2016, 13:03

Geneva — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been "arbitrarily detained" by Britain and Sweden since December 2010, and should be freed and compensated, a U.N. human rights panel says.

The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which falls under the offices of the U.N. human rights chief, made the call in an 18-page document made public on Friday after it had notified Assange.

Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange over allegations of rape stemming from a working visit he made to the country in 2010 when WikiLeaks was attracting international attention for its secret-spilling.

Assange has consistently denied the allegations but declined to return to Sweden to meet with prosecutors and eventually sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has lived since June 2012.

In an indirect swipe at Sweden's judicial system, the panel noted that Assange was never formally charged in Sweden — only placed under preliminary investigation.

"The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers that the various forms of deprivation of liberty to which Julian Assange has been subjected constitute a form of arbitrary detention," said panel chairman Seong-Phil Hong in a statement.

He said the working group believed that Assange's arbitrary detention "should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected, and that he should be entitled to an enforceable right to compensation."

The panel's decisions are not binding on states, even if they are generally considered a good arbiter of international law.

"The statement from the Working Group has no formal impact on the ongoing investigation, according to Swedish law," said Karin Rosander, spokeswoman for Sweden's Prosecution Authority, in a statement. She said the prosecutor in charge of the case was traveling and not immediately available for comment on the decision.

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- AP


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