News / Europe

    WikiLeaks Founder Assange Calls UN Ruling 'Vindication'

    UN Panel Says WikiLeaks Founder 'Arbitrarily Detained'i
    February 05, 2016 10:56 PM
    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remains at Ecuador’s embassy in London after a United Nations panel on Friday ruled he has been arbitrarily detained since 2012. Britain says it will arrest him if he sets foot outside the embassy and send him to Sweden, where he is wanted for investigation on rape charges. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from London.
    Luis Ramirez

    A U.N. panel's finding that Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained is a "vindication," said the WikiLeaks founder Friday from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been living to avoid extradition.
    Speaking by video from inside the embassy, Assange said it is "now a matter of settled law" that he has been wrongly detained.  

    The panel ruled Assange has been arbitrarily detained since 2012.

    Assange wants to leave the embassy where he has sought refuge for nearly four years, but faces arrest by British police.  Sweden wants him for investigation of rape, an allegation he denies.

    WATCH: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reaction to ruling:

    WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Reacts to UN Panel Rulingi
    February 05, 2016 1:03 PM
    A U.N. panel has ruled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained since 2012.

    British officials have dismissed the U.N. ruling and say it will arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy.

    The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a panel of independent experts, issued a statement early Friday, saying, “The various forms of deprivation of liberty to which Julian Assange has been subjected constitute a form of arbitrary detention."

    A police van waits outside the Ecuadorian embassy in central London, Britain, Feb. 5, 2016.
    A police van waits outside the Ecuadorian embassy in central London, Britain, Feb. 5, 2016.

    Not legally binding

    The panel called for him to be released and compensated for time lost; but, the ruling Friday is not legally binding.

    Sweden says it plans to keep up its investigation of him.  Britain and Sweden on Friday said Assange sought refuge at the embassy of his own accord and has not been detained.

    Britain’s foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, dismissed the U.N. panel’s ruling, saying it was “frankly ridiculous.”

    Assange earlier said he intended to leave the Ecuadorian embassy on Friday.  His supporters said he would hold a news conference at the Frontline Club, a London press club. Instead, he spoke from the embassy, where hundreds of reporters monitored his remarks from the street.  Later, he emerged onto the embassy’s balcony and read a statement to his supporters, calling the ruling a “historic victory.”

    Assange, an Australian national, has said he wants his passport returned and a termination of all attempts to arrest him.

    A supporter of WikiLeaks founder julian Assange holds a copy of The WikiLeaks Files outside the Ecuadorian embassy in central London, Britain Feb. 5, 2016.
    A supporter of WikiLeaks founder julian Assange holds a copy of The WikiLeaks Files outside the Ecuadorian embassy in central London, Britain Feb. 5, 2016.

    Release of secret U.S. govt. files

    The former computer hacker angered the United States by releasing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. government files.

    He has since been linked in Sweden with a number of crimes, including one of rape in 2010.

    The statute of limitations has run out on the other allegations, but the one on rape stands and Swedish officials have said a U.N. ruling would have no impact on their investigation.

    His supporters say the Swedish woman in the rape case has said Swedish police “railroaded” her into accusing him.

    That is not the view of the woman’s lawyer, who called Friday’s ruling “insulting and offensive.” 

    In a statement, Elisabeth Massi Fritz criticized the U.N. ruling, saying the panel appeared to not understand that rape “is one of the most serious abuses and violations of human rights.”   She said she is relieved that the ruling is not legally binding.  She said Assange should "pack his bags, leave the embassy and start cooperating with the police and the prosecutor."

    Among the secret files that his website published were hundreds of thousands of documents detailing U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    It also released a video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter gunship attack in Baghdad that killed 12 people, including two staff members of the Reuters news agency.

    WikiLeaks back story

    Documents leaked included thousands of diplomatic cables from U.S. embassies around the world dating back several decades.  Those cables, in some cases, contained details of what U.S. diplomats were saying about other world leaders; revelations that embarrassed U.S. officials.

    In the United States, a grand jury is still investigating the leaks.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday said Britain and Sweden would have to resolve Assange’s case.

    “It’s unclear to me exactly what impact a pronouncement from the United Nations would have on this situation," Earnest said.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
    by: PermReader
    February 06, 2016 6:22 AM
    Is it a step towards "World government"? UN "comission" above the national law? The previous attempt to introduce international laws was Hamas`(!) demand to arrest Israeli PM in London. Ha Ha?

    by: Bob Jones from: United States
    February 05, 2016 9:28 PM
    It's amazing that so many people want to set Julian Assange free. No powerful or popular person should be allowed to get away with sexually assaulting women...not the President of the United States, not Bill one. Ask the women who accuse him of sexually assaulting them if they think he should go free just because he voluntarily walked into a foreign embassy. Is the UN going to rule that any potential criminal can walk into an embassy and three years later say "Set me free?" If they let Assange go free, then anyone can go free no matter what they have done.

    by: Jon Talus
    February 05, 2016 9:20 PM
    Hey Julian! What have you been doing for the last 3 years? You have to ask yourself, was it worth it?

    by: Mack
    February 05, 2016 9:00 PM
    Everyone needs to understand just how important this guy is and what he stands for. Americans especially, have no idea how much their freedoms are at stake and this guy showed us and the world just where our Gov't's loyalty lies. And it is NOT with it's people.
    In Response

    by: Bob from: US
    February 05, 2016 10:25 PM
    You are not from the US so don't take that liberty. If you believe that someone who walks free because they wish to influence their beliefs on many people without standing in front of a court of justice, not a UN group that only apply their current feelings as they see fit, to serve only very liberally, then you don't understand the elements involved.

    by: Freonpsandoz from: USA
    February 05, 2016 5:49 PM
    I support what Assange does, but that kind of journalism comes with a responsibility to defend your journalistic decisions in court when necessary. The UN has reduced itself to irrelevancy by discarding the rule of law and issuing "feel good" rulings.

    by: Joe Justice from: Texas
    February 05, 2016 4:48 PM
    The cost of police security alone in front of the embassy has tallied in the millions of dollars ever since Assange took refuge. Is this whole fiasco is REALLY about a 'rape' investigation in Sweden? If so, then wouldn't it be more efficient to just fly Swedish investigators over to the embassy where they could conduct their questioning and either decide to file real charges or not? There aren't even any charged filed against Assange?! Seems kinda shady to me.
    In Response

    by: Bob from: US
    February 05, 2016 10:27 PM
    He won't agree to questions or any type of query.

    by: lyk from: USA
    February 05, 2016 3:08 PM
    All he has done is expose bad things the country leaders, politicians and militaries have done around the world. Since when it is a crime to report the truth. I guess, as long as it is shameful for us - it is a crime and the person should be punished. Hypocrites to the core.

    by: XonEarth from: New York
    February 05, 2016 2:44 PM
    It is high time the U.S. military murderers plainly evidenced by the collateral damage videos released by Wikileaks are brought to justice. The gunning down of innocent civilians multiple times were war crimes of the worst magnitude. Wikileaks has performed a great and noble service to humanity exposing the corruption in our military.

    by: George
    February 05, 2016 2:12 PM
    When has the UN ever been right about anything. Sad state of affairs when you have to rely on their ruling. Proof that Assane really is a bad guy.

    by: mbennett from: United States
    February 05, 2016 2:12 PM
    UN does not distinguish itself by "rulings" like this. In first place he is not retrained. Further UK and Sweden are sovereign states who enforce their criminal laws with all required due process.
    Comments page of 2

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