UN Panel Rules That, Yes, Julian Assange Has Been Arbitrarily Detained

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A United Nations panel has ruled that Julian Assange has been “arbitrarily detained by the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom” and believes he is “entitled to his freedom of movement.”

Assange and his legal team complained to the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2014 that his living in 300 square feet within the Ecuadorian Embassy was unwarranted and had taken a toll on his health. Now, the panel has determined that Assange has “been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty” since his initial arrest back in 2010. It explains:

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.


Swedish authorities have been seeking Assange over allegations of rape, but he has resisted questioning—largely over fears that he may end up extradited to the US. If that happened, he’d likely face some severe charges over the files he exposed during the WikiLeaks releases that started in 2010.

The BBC first reported news about the UN panel’s decision yesterday. At the time, Assange took to Twitter to explain that:

[S]hould 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.


The verdict, however, doesn’t actually have any influence over what British and Swedish authorities do—as countries around the world ruled by the UN to violate human rights would attest. Indeed, London’s police force has already pointed out that the UN ruling doesn’t undermine the European arrest warrant against him, and say he’d still be taken into custody if he were to leave the embassy.

According to BBC Radio 4, Assange will provide a reaction to the news via Skype later today.


[UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention]

Image by AP