The UK government has outright rejected claims by a UN panel that Julian Assange has been “arbitrarily detained” by authorities in Britain and Sweden for more than five years.
“This changes nothing,” said a spokesperson at the Foreign Office on Friday morning, immediately after the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released its verdict this morning, which had been leaked to the press a day early. The Foreign Office—which does not recognise “political asylum”—added:
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 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.
The UN panel urged the government to end Assange’s “detention,” and added that he “should be afforded the right to compensation.”
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