Thursday, 1 December 2016

UN ruling to free WikiLeaks’ Assange to stand after British appeal rejected

The UN just dealt a massive blow to the UK over its detention of Julian Assange

30 November, 2016

The United Nations just rejected an appeal from the UK government. And the turndown could see WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange walk free after four years trapped in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy.

Overturning UN decrees

The UK had appealed against a UN ruling made in February. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) had judged that Assange’s confinement in the Ecuadorian Embassy amounted to arbitrary detention and urged the countries involved to bring that detention to an end.
Swedish authorities want to bring Assange in for questioning over alleged sexual misconduct in 2010. The US also wants access to him for a “multi subject investigation” into Wikileaks. And Sweden refused to guarantee that it would not extradite Assange to the US if he travelled to the country to face the accusations against him.
Ecuador gave Assange asylum in 2012, and he has now been in its London embassy for over four years. The UK government has said authorities will arrest him if he tries to leave, and has routinely stationed police at the embassy. Assange has repeatedly offered for questioning by Swedish prosecutors to take place in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Swedish authorities finally scheduled an interview at the embassy earlier in November.

Ustanding firm on Assange

The UN said the appeal made by the UK was “not admissible“. Its decision also confirms that the UK is in breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR); and it will continue to be if the detention doesn’t end. The UDHR is part of international law, which is legally binding.
The website Justice for Assange detailed the WikiLeaks founder’s response to the rejection:


Now that all appeals are exhausted I expect that the UK and Sweden will comply with their international obligations and set me free. It is an obvious and grotesque injustice to detain someone for six years who hasn’t even been charged with an offence.

Whether the UK authorities will abide by the judgement is as yet unknown. But the pressure is now on. If the UK ignores the ruling, it will be publicly flouting international law. And its ability to wag its finger at other countries that do the same will mean absolutely nothing.
Now we will see just how wedded to universal standards the UK really is.
This article was updated at 23.58 on 30/11. It previously suggested that there were charges in Sweden against Mr Assange. There are no formal charges, so they are accusations.

UN ruling to free WikiLeaks’ Assange to stand after British appeal rejected

A national flag flies outside the Ecuadorian Embassy  in London, Britain © Peter Nicholls

A national flag flies outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain © Peter Nicholls / Reuters

The United Nations has rejected a UK appeal against its previous ruling in favor of Julian Assange as "inadmissible," thus requiring both London and Stockholm to end the WikiLeaks founder’s "arbitrary detention."

Earlier this year, a case was concluded at the UN, in which the body instructed the UK and Sweden to take immediate steps to ensure the WikiLeaks founder's liberty, protection and enjoyment of fundamental human rights.

The UK has appealed the ruling twice, with the UN rejecting its second appeal on Wednesday by pronouncing it "not admissible," Justice for Assange reported, adding that the decision marks the end to London's "attempt to overturn the ruling."

"Now that all appeals are exhausted, I expect that the UK and Sweden will comply with their international obligations and set me free," a statement by Assange read, with the fugitive whistleblower calling his detention "an obvious and grotesque injustice."

The recent development in the Assange case at the UN forces the UK and Sweden - which are parties to his case - "to immediately put an end to Mr. Assange's arbitrary detention and afford him monetary compensation," Justice for Assange stated, adding that a failure to do so would undermine the UN human rights' protection system.

Julian Assange faces potential, but as yet unfiled charges over rape allegations in Stockholm that date back to 2010. The whistleblower has always denied the accusations, saying that being taken to Sweden would pave the way for a further extradition to the US, where the government has launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks following a 2010 diplomatic cables leak.


He has been sheltered by the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since August 2012. Earlier this month, Swedish investigators came to interview Assange inside the embassy concerning rape charges, with the whistleblower saying he has "cooperated fully" with them.


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