Julian Assange ‘Arbitrarily Detained’ by Sweden and UK, UN Panel Says

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a statement to media gathered outside the High Court in London, Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. A British court Monday gave WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange permission to continue his legal battle to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crimes allegations. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON–An expert United Nations panel condemned the detention of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying he has been “arbitrarily detained” by Sweden and the United Kingdom since his arrest in 2010.

The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in a statement, called on the Swedish and British authorities to “end Mr. Assange’s deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation.”

Prosecutors in Sweden 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 activities.

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.

“We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention,” a U.K. government spokesman said in a statement.

“Julian Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK. The opinion of the UN Working Group ignores the facts and the well-recognized protections of the British legal system. He is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean 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 recognize ‘diplomatic asylum.’”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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