UN Panel to Rule for Assange on London Detention, BBC Says

Julian Assange

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange takes part in a teleconference during the 2nd International Congress on Universal Jurisdiction in Buenos Aires on Sep. 9, 2015.

Photographer: Juan Mabromata/AFP via Getty Images
  • London police still intend to arrest him if he leaves embassy
  • Wikileaks spokeswoman could not immediately confirm ruling

A United Nations panel assessing whether Julian Assange’s self-imposed confinement at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London amounted to unlawful detention will rule in the WikiLeaks founder’s favor, according to a BBC report, setting up a clash with British police, who still plan to arrest him.

The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will issue its decision Friday morning from its headquarters in Geneva, spokesman Xabier Celaya said, declining to comment on the veracity of the BBC report. Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson was unable to confirm the report.

Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorian mission after exhausting options in U.K. courts to avoid extradition over rape allegations stemming from a 2010 trip to Sweden. Assange said he fears arrest by London police if he steps outside the building and has also refused to return to the Scandinavian country, citing risks he will be extradited to the U.S. over the release of secret government documents by WikiLeaks.

Though the Metropolitan Police withdrew the around-the-clock policing from outside the embassy in October, they “will make every effort to arrest him” should he leave, the police said in a statement Thursday.

Assange had said Thursday morning on his Twitter feed before the BBC report emerged that he would leave the embassy and surrender to police if the UN panel ruled against him.

The UN panel has taken evidence from the U.K. and Sweden before reaching its decision, the BBC reported, without saying where it got the information. Decisions by the panel are not binding but can provide the basis for ruling by other bodies like the European Court for Human Rights.

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