Julian Assange accuses UK minister of insulting UN after det

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Julian Assange accuses UK minister of insulting UN after det

Postby admin » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:05 am

Julian Assange accuses UK minister of insulting UN after detention finding: Foreign secretary Philip Hammond dismisses panel’s finding as ‘ridiculous’ but WikiLeaks founder hails ‘sweet victory’
by Esther Addley, Jessica Elgot and Owen Bowcott
5 February 2016

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Assange says Hammond’s dismissal of the UN’s finding as ridiculous is ‘beneath the stature that a foreign minister should express’


Julian Assange has accused Britain’s foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, of insulting the United Nations in his response to a panel finding that Assange’s circumstances amount to “arbitrary detention”.

Hammond called the panel’s finding “ridiculous” and said the WikiLeaks founder was a “fugitive from justice”. Assange, who fled to the Ecquadorian embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault, said the remarks were “beneath the stature that a foreign minister should express in this situation”.

Assange said the panel’s finding was a “sweet” victory and added: “This is the end of the road for the legal arguments that have been put forward by Sweden and the UK.”

As anticipated, the finding by the Geneva-based UN panel criticised legal action against Assange by the UK and Sweden and blamed them for preventing him from leaving the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge.

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Philip Hammond rejects ‘ridiculous’ UN decision on Julian Assange


The panel called on the Swedish and British authorities to end Assange’s “deprivation of liberty”, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement and offer him compensation.

The report said: “The working group considered that Mr Assange has been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty: initial detention in Wandsworth prison, which was followed by house arrest and his confinement at the Ecuadorian embassy.

“Having concluded that there was a continuous deprivation of liberty, the working group also found that the detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation during the first stage of detention and because of the lack of diligence by the Swedish prosecutor in its investigations, which resulted in the lengthy detention of Mr Assange.”

Appearing at a west London press conference by videolink from the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has remained since seeking asylum in 2012, Assange said that if Sweden and the UK continued to dispute the report, “the diplomatic effect is that it will become difficult for [the two countries] to be treated seriously as international players”.

He said they could become subject to penalties “up to and including sanctions”, though that would be a matter for the UN.

Later, Assange appeared on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy clutching a copy of the UN report. “How sweet it is. This is a victory that cannot be denied. It is a victory of historical importance for me, my family, my children and for the independence of the UN system.”

Assange declared he was “tough” enough to withstand longer confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, but demanded the UK and Sweden heed the UN’s opinion that he is arbitrarily detained. Assange said his legal team would now examine if there were “criminal consequences” for the parties who he said continue to deny him his freedom, citing the UN Convention Against Torture.

At one point during his 12-minute appearance, as he was being heckled from the street, he said: “Can someone close that person up?”

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Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuador embassy in London


Baltasar Garzón, a Spanish judge who heads Assange’s international legal team, said the arrest warrant against his client was now “empty and void”. Garzón, who came to prominence in 1998 when he issued an arrest warrant for Chile’s former president Augusto Pinochet, said any continuation of Assange’s confinement “becomes a form of torture”.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart in London, Hammond forcefully rejected the findings of the UN panel. “This is frankly a ridiculous finding by the working group and we reject it.” He pointed out that the panel was made up of lay people, not lawyers.

The British government added in a statement: “This changes nothing. We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention. The UK has already made clear to the UN that we will formally contest the working group’s opinion.”

It said Assange was “voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest” by remaining in the Ecuadorian embassy.

The UN committee said one of its members, Leigh Toomey, had declined to take part in the inquiry because she, like Assange, is an Australian citizen. One of the other members, Vladimir Tochilovsky, a Ukrainian lawyer, had disagreed with the finding.

Only three of the five-member panel therefore supported the finding against the UK and Sweden.

Ken Macdonald QC, a former director of public prosecutions in the UK, condemned the UN panel report as misguided. He told the Guardian: “This report is beyond parody. Julian Assange is wanted in connection with a grave sexual offence in a country that has a fair trial justice system consistent with the highest international standards. Instead of cooperating with the Swedish authorities, as he should have done, Mr Assange has chosen to hole up in a foreign embassy, deliberately frustrating a serious criminal investigation.

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is projected onto a screen behind Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzón and Australian lawyers Melinda Taylor and Jennifer Robinson. Photograph: Niklas Halle'N/AFP/Getty Images

“To describe his situation as ‘arbitrary detention’ is ludicrous. Rather than expecting Swedish prosecutors to visit him at his leisure in his hiding place, Mr Assange should recognise that he is not above the law, give himself up and answer the allegations he faces. The United Nations panel on arbitrary detention has embarrassed itself and all those concerned about real injustices in the world.”

The Swedish foreign ministry said: “The [Swedish] government does not agree with the assessment made by the majority of the working group. In light of the safeguards contained in the Swedish extradition and [European arrest warrant] procedures against any potential extradition in violation of international human rights agreements, the government reiterates its position that Mr Assange does not face a risk of refoulement [removal] contrary to international human rights obligations to the United States from Sweden.

“In any case, no request for extradition regarding Mr Assange has been directed to Sweden. Moreover, Mr Assange has chosen, voluntarily, to stay at the Ecuadorian embassy and Swedish authorities have no control over his decision to stay there. Mr Assange is free to leave the embassy at any point. Thus, he is not being deprived of his liberty there due to any decision or action taken by the Swedish authorities.”

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the UN panel’s findings should force the US government to end its investigations into Assange over the Wikileaks disclosures: “In light of this decision, it’s clear that any criminal charges against Mr Assange in connection with WikiLeaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional.

“Indeed, even the prolonged criminal investigation of WikiLeaks itself has had a profound chilling effect. The justice department should end that investigation and make clear that no publisher will ever be prosecuted for the act of journalism.”
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Re: Julian Assange accuses UK minister of insulting UN after

Postby admin » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:08 am

"A Significant Victory": Julian Assange Hails U.N. Panel Calling for His Freedom
by DemocracyNow!
Feb. 5, 2016

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A United Nations panel has officially concluded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been "arbitrarily detained" and should be allowed to walk free. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for more than three years. He wants to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crimes allegations, which he has repeatedly denied and for which he has never been charged. He fears Sweden would extradite him to the United States, where he could face trial for WikiLeaks’ revelations. We air reaction to the U.N. decision from Assange and his attorney, Melinda Taylor, and speak with Mads Andenæs, U.N. special rapporteur on arbitrary detention.

TRANSCRIPT: This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: A United Nations panel has officially concluded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been "arbitrarily detained" and should be allowed to walk free. Assange has been holed up in Ecuadorean Embassy in London for more than three years. He wants to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crimes allegations, which he has repeatedly denied and for which he has never been charged. He fears Sweden would extradite him to the United States, where he could face trial for WikiLeaks’ revelations.

AMY GOODMAN: Seong-Phil Hong, the rapporteur of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, spoke this morning.

SEONG-PHIL HONG: The working group maintains the arbitrary detention of Mr. Assange should be brought to an end. And his physical integrity and his freedom of movement should be respected. And finally, if necessary, he should be entitled to an enforceable right to remedy—for example, compensation.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.N. panel’s judgment is not legally binding. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond dismissed it as "ridiculous."

PHILIP HAMMOND: Well, I reject the finding of this working group. It’s a group made up of laypeople, not lawyers, and they are—their conclusion is flawed in law. Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He’s hiding from justice in the Ecuadorean Embassy. He can come out onto the pavement any time he chooses. He’s not being detained by us. But he will have to face justice in Sweden, if he chooses to do so. And it’s right that he should not be able to escape justice. This is a—frankly, a ridiculous finding by the working group, and we reject it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: At a press conference at the Frontline Club in London this morning, Julian Assange’s attorney, Melinda Taylor, discussed the significance of the ruling.

MELINDA TAYLOR: So, finally, we have the verdict of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. And they issued a very detailed opinion, which considers all arguments from Sweden and the United Kingdom. And this decision dispels the myth that Mr. Assange is either a fugitive from justice or that he could just walk out of the embassy. It is a damning indictment of the manner in which this case has been handled. It further affirms that Mr. Assange is a victim of a significant miscarriage of justice that is attributable to the action and inaction of both Sweden and the United Kingdom. It further emphasized Julian’s continued willingness to cooperate with the investigations in this case at all stages of the procedure.

Now, today I’m going to first address why we brought a complaint before the United Nations working group and, secondly, what are the findings of this working group. In terms of why we brought the complaint, there are two main reasons. First, he is and has been detained now for five years, one month and 29 days. And to put it bluntly, that’s a hell of a long time to detain someone, someone who has never been charged and has never even been questioned by the Swedish authorities.

AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange also responded to the ruling just before our broadcast today. He spoke at that news conference at the Frontline Club in London via video stream from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, I’ve been detained now without charge in this country, the United Kingdom, for five-and-a-half years. That’s five-and-a-half years where I’ve had great difficulty seeing my family and seeing my children. Today that detention without charge has been found by the highest organization in the United Nations—that is, has the jurisdiction for considering the rights of detained persons—to be unlawful.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Julian Assange speaking just minutes before we went to broadcast through a video stream at the Frontline Club. He’s been holed up at the embassy in—the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for three-and-a-half years, where he got political asylum.

Joining us now is Mads Andenæs. He is the former U.N. special rapporteur on arbitrary detention and the chair of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. He’s a professor at the University of Oslo and a visiting professor at All Souls College in Oxford. And that’s where we’re speaking to him right now.

Mads Andenæs, thanks so much for joining us. Can you explain the ruling of the U.N. committee?

MADS ANDENÆS: So, the U.N. committee holds that this is a violation of the prohibition against arbitrary detention. Mr. Assange has been deprived of his liberty for a five-year—more than a five-year period. He was initially arrested and detained in isolation. The isolation was completely groundless. He was afterwards in house arrest under, again, very strict restrictions. He was then threatened with actually being extradited to Sweden. And you’ve spoken about the consequences of that. And that would negate his basic human rights. He had no other choice than to go and seek refuge, and he did that in the Ecuadorean Embassy. That was not his choice. That was not his volition. It was the only way he could uphold his own rights in this situation.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Mads Andenæs, I wanted to ask you—The Guardian newspaper had an editorial basically not backing—not backing Julian Assange, and saying that the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, that this latest opinion, is simply wrong. It says, "He is not being detained arbitrarily. Three-and-a-half years ago, he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in order to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sex offences. ... 'Arbitrary' detention," The Guardian says, "means that due legal process has not been observed. It has. This is a publicity stunt." What do you say to that?

MADS ANDENÆS: Well, first of all, due process has not been upheld, and that’s what the U.N. working group very clearly shows—a series of procedural mistakes on the Swedish side, no proportionality review on the U.K. side. And the alternatives here—there were alternatives. Under the European Arrest Warrant system, he could have been interviewed, interrogated in England, in London. That’s how we normally do these things in Europe. In these kind of cases, Swedish officers could have traveled to the U.K. He would—Mr. Assange would have been interviewed in an English police station. That’s how we usually do it, and it wasn’t done here. It was a highly irregular procedure. This was nothing like due process. And it is obvious to the U.N. group and, after this ruling, obvious that this did not serve the purposes of the case, the way it was explained. This was to achieve other aims and illegitimate aims. And it was clearly not a part of a due process.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to Julian Assange speaking this morning after the U.N. ruling became public.

JULIAN ASSANGE: It is now the task of the states of Sweden and the United Kingdom, as a whole, to implement the verdict. Now, while there can be attempts for the media, for the popular press, to look tough and attempt to undermine that, a serious attempt, not just for show, would have the effect of undermining the U.N. system. And there are consequences of doing that. And Sweden and the U.K. know full well that there are consequences. Those consequences include not merely weakening a human rights and international law instrument to which both countries have signed binding treaties, but rather it will have the diplomatic effect—and diplomats know it. The diplomatic effect will be to make life difficult for Sweden and the United Kingdom to be treated seriously as international players that obey their international legal obligations.

Their attempts, if they proceed to undermine the U.N. system, will see various enforcement measures that can be taken by the U.N. Those, initially, of course, can include their removal from U.N. committees, the movement against those states in various voting processes, and, ultimately, up to and including sanctions. Now that’s, of course, a matter for the U.N. to decide about how it’s going to enforce its decisions, and a matter for Sweden and the U.K. to think, do they really want to go down that path?

AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Julian Assange speaking at the news conference today, albeit by video stream because he is in the Ecuadorean Embassy. If he steps foot outside, he’ll be arrested by British authorities. We’re talking to the former U.N. rapporteur on arbitrary detention, Mads Andenæs. I was watching CNN this morning, and a reporter was standing outside the Ecuadorean Embassy and saying, "Despite Sweden’s efforts to question Julian Assange in the embassy, Ecuador has prevented them from doing this." This was exactly the opposite. This was not true, what the reporter said. Ecuador has said that the Swedish authorities could come in. Even a court in Sweden has reprimanded the prosecutor for not questioning Julian Assange. Mads Andenæs, can you say what happens from here?

MADS ANDENÆS: Well, it’s now for the U.K. and the Swedish authorities to find some way of abiding by this opinion. This U.N. body is the only body or the one U.N. body dealing with arbitrary detention. And they come with this very clear ruling. Sweden and the U.K. are bound by the U.N. Convention on Civil and Political Rights. And it’s now for them to find a way of complying.

And what you mentioned there is part of the substance of the case. There are, of course, lesser—much lesser measures, less intrusive measures that could have been chosen. For instance, they could have interviewed him in the U.K. And it’s not true that Assange has not offered that, as far as I—well, I think it’s absolutely clear, although you have this reporter that you just mentioned. To the contrary, it’s absolutely clear that Assange and his team has offered to answer—that he should offer—he had offered to answer questions by Swedish police in the U.K. That’s beyond dispute. And that offer has not been taken up. And as you mentioned, Swedish courts have been very critical of the prosecutor, of the Swedish prosecutor, for this. And if you read those judgments closely—they’re in Swedish, of course—you will see that it is as strong a criticism as you can expect possible from a Swedish court against the way that the prosecutors have proceeded here.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Mads Andenæs, we only have about 30 seconds or so, but your sense of how public opinion, both in Britain and in Sweden, is in respect to how their governments are dealing with the Julian Assange case?

MADS ANDENÆS: Well, it’s split. It’s split. But no country likes to get a ruling for arbitrary detention, to be censured by the U.N. like this. But if you don’t abide by it, you fall into the category of countries we don’t like to compare ourselves with, who do not abide by these rulings. And it’s very important for the international human rights systems that countries like the U.K. and Sweden do actually go for—show a good example and do follow these rulings, because, in the end, they are bound by the conventions. And there’s no more authority body to interpret and apply the Convention on Arbitrary Detention than this working group, which is established by the U.N. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Mads Andenæs, we’re going to have to leave it there, but I thank you so much for being with us. He is the former U.N. special rapporteur on arbitrary detention and chair of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, now professor at University of Oslo, a visiting professor at All Souls College in Oxford, where we just spoke to him.
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Re: Julian Assange accuses UK minister of insulting UN after

Postby admin » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:36 am

Julian Assange: 'sweet' victory soured by British and Swedish rejection: No release in sight despite UN panel deciding WikiLeaks founder is being arbitrarily detained at Ecuador embassy
by Esther Addley, Owen Bowcott, David Crouch in Gothenberg, and Jessica Elgot
5 February 2016

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WikiLeak’s founder, Julian Assange, holds up the UN panel’s report as he addresses supporters and the media from the embassy balcony. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty

A UN panel may have found that Julian Assange is subject to “arbitrary detention” and called for him to be allowed to walk free, but the WikiLeaks founder remains exactly where he has been for the past 44 months – inside Ecuador’s London embassy and locked in a three-nation war of words.

Britain and Sweden immediately rejected the UN report, which declared that Assange had been “arbitrarily detained” since his arrest in 2010 and during his lengthy stay in the embassy, where he sought asylum in June 2012. The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, described the findings as “ridiculous” and the Australian as a “fugitive from justice”.

However, the panel’s findings, leaked on Thursday and published in full on Friday morning, were a welcome victory for Assange, and a moment he intended to savour fully. At 4.01pm he emerged on to the balcony of the west London embassy to greet a crowd of several hundred supporters and journalists, pausing first, just briefly, to glance at the sky he has rarely seen for more than three years.

“How sweet it is,” said Assange, holding aloft a copy of the UN report while supporters shouted: “We love you, Julian!” It had been, he said, “a victory of historical importance”, and a decision reached after a process to which both Britain and Sweden had made submissions. “They lost. UK lost; Sweden lost.”

The Swedish government, however, has insisted the report changes nothing, and that it cannot interfere in an independent prosecutor’s ongoing attempt to extradite Assange for questioning over an allegation of rape dating from 2010, which he denies.

Meanwhile, for Ecuador – the Australian’s (mostly) willing host – the findings meant it was time for the two countries to allow Assange to walk free, and to compensate both him and them for the lengthy period he has been holed up in one of its few rooms.

At times, Assange was in magnanimous mood. Having initially accused Hammond of insulting the UN with comments that were “beneath the stature that a foreign minister should express in this situation”, he later described him as a “perfectly nice person” whose comments were “merely rhetoric”. Britain had not appealed against the findings of the UN working group on arbitrary detention, he said, “because they knew they would lose”.

But there were dark warnings for those he said were responsible for “depriv[ing] my children of their father for five and a half years”.

“A lot of people have very long memories about the parties that have committed injustices in this case. Inevitably, those people will face the consequences of their actions.”

Only a single, persistent heckler interrupted the mood. “Can someone close that person up?” asked Assange. Shouts of “Yes!” came in response.

After exhausting all his legal options in the UK and Sweden some time ago, there is no question that the report represents a boost for Assange’s legal team.

Reaching their conclusion by a three-to-one majority after a fifth member recused herself, the panel called on the Swedish and British authorities to end Assange’s “deprivation of liberty”, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and offer him compensation.

Assange, they found, had been unable “to access the full-intended benefit” of the asylum status granted by Ecuador, and “the continuing and disproportionate denial to him of such access … had become cumulatively harsh and disproportionate”.

In particular, the panel offered an excoriating critique of Sweden’s prosecution process, which they said had been in a state of “indefinite procrastination”. With Quito and Stockholm still unable to agree on arrangements to allow Swedish prosecutors access to the London embassy, Assange has yet to be interviewed over the alleged offences. Britain said on Thursday it was “deeply frustrated” by the deadlock.

But for all Assange’s jubilation, he remains in the embassy, the extradition warrant still stands, and Britain and Sweden remain adamant that the report changes nothing.

Assange also remains fearful of a potential future extradition to the US, where a secret grand jury has been looking into whether to prosecute him over WikiLeak’s publishing activities.


British lawyers lined up on Friday to dismiss the panel’s findings, with Dominic Grieve, who was attorney general in 2012 when Assange entered the embassy, calling it “an extraordinary document” and “very far-fetched”.

Ken Macdonald QC, the former director of public prosecutions, described the findings as “beyond parody”.

“Julian Assange is wanted in connection with a grave sexual offence in a country that has a fair-trial justice system consistent with the highest international standards. Instead of cooperating with the Swedish authorities, as he should have done, Mr Assange has chosen to hole up in a foreign embassy, deliberately frustrating a serious criminal investigation. To describe his situation as ‘arbitrary detention’ is ludicrous.”

Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer for the Swedish woman whom Assange is accused of raping, said the UN panel had “a lack of understanding” that rape “is one of the most serious abuses and violations of human rights”.

It was “insulting and offensive”, she said, to her client to suggest a rape suspect should be compensated for withholding himself from justice for more than five years.

But the former chair of the UN working group, Mads Andenas, defended its finding, saying: “There is no doubt that the normal course of action for the Swedish authorities would have been to interview Assange in London. The extradition request was disproportionate.”

So what happens next in the extraordinary, seemingly irresolveable drama of Julian Assange? At a press conference earlier in the day, one of his lawyers, Melinda Taylor, said that if Sweden and Britain were not prepared to act, Assange might consider applying again to the Swedish courts, “to see how they will enforce or apply the findings of the working group”.

The European court of human rights was another option, she said, although the Strasbourg court confirmed on Friday that an application lodged by Assange in November against the UK and Sweden had been declared inadmissible the following month.

Speaking on the balcony, Assange dropped heavy hints about breaches of the convention against torture. “If this illegal, immoral, unethical detention continues, there will be criminal consequences for the parties involved.”
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Re: Julian Assange accuses UK minister of insulting UN after

Postby admin » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:38 am

UN panel calls on UK and Sweden to end Julian Assange's 'deprivation of liberty': UN working group says WikiLeaks founder should be offered compensation for being confined to Ecuadorian embassy
by Owen Bowcott and David Crouch
5 February 2016

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Arbitrary detention ruling is legally binding, says UN official. Photograph: Assange in 2014.

The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained by the UK and Sweden for more than five years and should be released immediately with compensation, according to a United Nations report.

As anticipated, the finding by the Geneva-based UN working group on arbitrary detention criticises legal action against Assange by both European governments and blames them for preventing him from leaving the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, central London.

The panel calls on the Swedish and British authorities to end Assange’s “deprivation of liberty”, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement and offer him compensation.

The report says: “The working group considered that Mr Assange has been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty: initial detention in Wandsworth prison, which was followed by house arrest and his confinement at the Ecuadorian embassy.

“Having concluded that there was a continuous deprivation of liberty, the working group also found that the detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation during the first stage of detention and because of the lack of diligence by the Swedish prosecutor in its investigations, which resulted in the lengthy detention of Mr Assange.”

It adds: “The working group therefore requested Sweden and the United Kingdom to assess the situation of Mr Assange to ensure his safety and physical integrity, to facilitate the exercise of his right to freedom of movement in an expedient manner, and to ensure the full enjoyment of his rights guaranteed by the international norms on detention.

“The working group also considered that the detention should be brought to an end and that Mr Assange should be afforded the right to compensation.”

A UK government spokesperson said:“This changes nothing. We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention. The UK has already made clear to the UN that we will formally contest the working group’s opinion.

“Julian Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK. The opinion of the UN working group ignores the facts and the well-recognised protections of the British legal system. He is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorian embassy. 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 him to Sweden. As the UK is not a party to the Caracas convention, we do not recognise ‘diplomatic asylum’.

“We are deeply frustrated that this unacceptable situation is still being allowed to continue. Ecuador must engage with Sweden in good faith to bring it to an end. America's minister Hugo Swire made this clear to the Ecuadorian ambassador in November, and we continue to raise the matter in Quito.”

The UN committee said one of its members, Leigh Toomey, had declined to take part in the inquiry because she, like Assange, is an Australian citizen. One of the other members, Vladimir Tochilovsky, a Ukrainian lawyer, had disagreed with the finding.

The statement said: “Given that Mr Assange is an Australian citizen, one of the members of the working group who shares his nationality recused herself from participating in the deliberations. Another member of the working group disagreed with the position of the majority and considered that the situation of Mr Assange is not one of detention and therefore falls outside the mandate of the working group.”

Only three of the five-member panel therefore supported the finding against the UK and Sweden.

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “In light of this decision, it’s clear that any criminal charges against Mr Assange in connection with Wikileaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional.

“Indeed, even the prolonged criminal investigation of Wikileaks itself has had a profound chilling effect. The justice department should end that investigation and make clear that no publisher will ever be prosecuted for the act of journalism.”

Much of the criticism in the panel’s full report is directed at the methods adopted by the Swedish prosecutors. The report states: “There has been a substantial failure to exercise due diligence on the part of the concerned states [Sweden and the UK] with regard to the performance of the criminal administration … After more than five years of time lapse, [Assange] is still left even before the stage of preliminary investigation with no predictability as to whether and when a formal process of any judicial dealing would commence.

“Despite that, it is left to the initial choice of the Swedish prosecution as to what mode of investigation would best suit the purpose of criminal justice. The exercise and implementation of the investigation method should be conducted in compliance with the rule of proportionality, including undertaking to explore alternative ways of administering justice.”

The report continues: “The working group is convinced that … the current situation of Mr Assange staying within the confines of the embassy of the Republic of Ecuador in London has become a state of an arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

“The duration of such detention is, ipso facto, incompatible with the presumption of innocence. Mr Assange has been denied the right to contest the continued necessity and proportionality of the arrest warrant in light of the length of this detention. It defeats the purpose and efficiency of justice and the interest of the concerned victims to put this matter of investigation to a state of indefinite procrastination.”

The report implies that insisting on Assange’s extradition to Sweden before any charges have been made amounts to disproportionate pressure in a criminal investigation. Greater efforts should have been made to interview him in the UK.


The panel received representations about the danger of “political persecution” if Assange is removed from Sweden to the US.

The Swedish foreign ministry said: “The [Swedish] government does not agree with the assessment made by the majority of the working group. In light of the safeguards contained in the Swedish extradition and [European arrest warrant] procedures against any potential extradition in violation of international human rights agreements, the government reiterates its position that Mr Assange does not face a risk of refoulement [removal] contrary to international human rights obligations to the United States from Sweden.

“In any case, no request for extradition regarding Mr Assange has been directed to Sweden. Moreover, Mr Assange has chosen, voluntarily, to stay at the Ecuadorian embassy and Swedish authorities have no control over his decision to stay there. Mr Assange is free to leave the embassy at any point. Thus, he is not being deprived of his liberty there due to any decision or action taken by the Swedish authorities.”
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Re: Julian Assange accuses UK minister of insulting UN after

Postby admin » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:41 am

Assange demands UK and Sweden lift arrest threat so he can leave Ecuadorian embassy: WikiLeaks founder says in statement he expects immediate return of passport after UN panel finds he has been ‘arbitrarily detained’
by Esther Addley, David Crouch in Gothenburg, Owen Bowcott Legal affairs correspondent and Jessica Elgot
5 February 2016

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Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy. The WikiLeaks founder is calling for the threat of arrest to be lifted. Photograph: Kerim Okten/EPA

Julian Assange will demand on Friday that Sweden and the UK lift any threat of arrest to allow him to walk free from Ecuador’s embassy in London, after a United Nations panel found that his three-and-a-half year confinement at the embassy in London amounted to “arbitrary detention”.

Sweden’s foreign ministry confirmed on Thursday that the UN panel, which will publish its findings on Friday, had decided in favour of the WikiLeaks founder and found that he was “arbitrarily detained”.

Assange has not set foot outside the cramped west London embassy building since June 2012, when he sought asylum from Ecuador in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden. The Australian is wanted for questioning over an allegation of rape dating to 2010, which he denies.

The findings of the UN working group on arbitrary detention (UNWGAD) are not legally binding, but can be used to apply pressure on states in human rights cases. The British and Swedish governments were informed of the working group’s conclusion on 22 January. Both indicated on Thursday that they do not accept its findings.

Anna Ekberg, spokesperson for the Swedish foreign ministry, said: “The UN working group on arbitrary detention has concluded that Mr Assange is arbitrarily detained. The working group’s view differs from that of the Swedish authorities. We will forward a reply to the working group [on Friday]. It will be more clear tomorrow why we reject the working group’s conclusions.”

The British foreign office said it would not “pre-empt” the panel’s report but said in a statement: “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 Ecuadorian embassy.

“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.”

A spokesperson for the Swedish Prosecution Authority said that the country’s Supreme Court found in May 2015 that Assange “should still be detained in his absence”, and that the UNWGAB finding “has no formal impact on the ongoing investigation, according to Swedish law”.

Assange issued a statement via Twitter early on Thursday saying that if the five-person panel found against him, he would voluntarily walk out of the embassy and offer himself for immediate arrest, “as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal”.

“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.”


He is expected to appear by videolink at a press conference on Friday to call for the threat of arrest and extradition to be lifted.

Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelson, said that if the working group found in his favour, “there is only one solution for Marianne Ny [the Swedish prosecutor seeking Assange’s extradition], and that is to immediately release him and drop the case”. Samuelson added: “If he is regarded as detained, that means he has served his time, so I see no other option for Sweden but to close the case.”

Assange’s lawyers also want assurances from the UK that, even if the Swedish prosecution were to be dropped, he would not be arrested and subject to a second extradition to the US. Assange and WikiLeaks have been the subject of a secret grand jury investigation in Virginia that has been looking into whether to prosecute them over the whistleblowing website’s US cable disclosures.


Melinda Taylor, a legal spokeswoman for Assange, said they had “every reason to believe” that the US would seek Assange’s extradition. “If one of the orders is that he should be released and his liberty should be assured, we would obviously look to the UK to make sure that it is effective and not illusory -– that it’s not just liberty for five seconds, but liberty that is meaningful.”

In the past, the UNWGAD has highlighted the plight of significant international figures, including the formerly imprisoned Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi. The UN panel declined to take a view on the detention of Saddam Hussein in Iraq by the US forces in 2006 but eventually said that his former minister, Tariq Aziz, was being arbitrarily detained.

In 2008, an UNWGAD report declared that Mustafa Abdi, a Somalian convicted rapist who was held in immigration custody in the UK for several years after the end of his sentence had been subject to arbitrary detention. The European court of human rights subsequently agreed and awarded Abdi compensation.

Mark Ellis, executive director of the London-based International Bar Association, said a finding by the UN panel in Assange’s favour “would seem to contradict a fairly extensive legal process both in the UK and in Sweden”.

Ellis added: “It’s important to maintain adherence to rule of law principles and ensure that individuals have to abide by legal rulings. It’s surprising to think that Assange could be exempted from those principles. The ruling by the UN panel is not binding on British law.

“It would, however, provide Assange with support for his claim that he should not be extradited. I’m sure the UK is trying to figure a way out. It would be difficult for me to think that there should be an exception [from the European arrest warrant] for this case.”
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