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Hammond: Assange remains a 'fugitive from justice'

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has described the UN working group's report on Julian Assange "ridiculous" and said the WikiLeaks founder is a "fugitive from justice".

The UN panel ruled Mr Assange is being "arbitrarily detained" in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and called for him to be paid compensation.

But Mr Hammond said the panel lacked credibility.

I reject the decision of this working group. It is a group made up of lay people and not lawyers. Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He is hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian embassy.

He can come out any time he chooses... But he will have to face justice in Sweden if he chooses to do so. This is frankly a ridiculous finding by the working group and we reject it.

– Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

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Foreign Office 'completely rejects' panel's Assange ruling

The Foreign Office "completely rejects" Julian Assange is the victim of arbitrary detention and will formally contest the ruling by the UN's panel.

The WikiLeaks founder is wanted for extradition on a rape accusation in Sweden and has lived in the embassy since June 2012.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said the UN working group's decision against the UK and Sweden "changes nothing" in relation to the case.

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. As the UK is not a party to the Caracas Convention, we do not recognise ‘diplomatic asylum’.

We are deeply frustrated that this unacceptable situation is still being allowed to continue. Ecuador must engage with Sweden in good faith to bring it to an end. Americas Minister Hugo Swire made this clear to the Ecuadorean Ambassador in November, and we continue to raise the matter in Quito.

– Foreign Office spokesperson

The Metropolitan Police have said they will make "every effort" to arrest Mr Assange should he leave the embassy.

UN panel formally confirms Assange's arbitrary detention

A UN panel has confirmed its ruling that Julian Assange's lengthy confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London amounts to "arbitrary detention" by Sweden and the UK.

The head of the panel - which is officially titled the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention - has called on both countries to respect Mr Assange's "freedom" and allow him to seek compensation.

The WikiLeaks founder, who is wanted for extradition on a rape accusation in Sweden and has lived in the embassy since June 2012, has said he expects to be treated as a free man if the panel ruled in his favour.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called on the UK and Sweden to accept the UN ruling and allow him to walk free form the Ecuadorian embassy. Credit: PA Archive

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers that the various forms of deprivation of liberty to which Julian Assange has been subjected constitute a form of arbitrary detention.

The Working Group maintains that the arbitrary detention of Mr. Assange should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected, and that he should be entitled to an enforceable right to compensation.

– UN panel head Seong-Phil Hong

The panel's judgment - which had been leaked a day before its formal announcement - is not legally binding but can be used to apply pressure on states in human rights cases.

Mr Assange filed his complaint against Sweden and Britain to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in September 2014, claiming his confinement in the embassy amounted to illegal detention.

Sweden: UN decision has no impact on Assange case

The UN 's decision to rule that Julian Assange is arbitrarily detained has no formal impact on the investigation under Swedish law, the Swedish Prosecution Authority has told Reuters.

A UN panel has concluded Julian Assange's confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London amounts to illegal detention, Sweden's foreign ministry has said.

The UN judgement is not legally binding but can be used to apply pressure on states in human rights cases.

The WikiLeaks founder is wanted for extradition on a rape accusation in Sweden and has lived in the embassy since June 2012.

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UN panel rules Assange is 'arbitrarily detained'

Julian Assange Credit: PA

A UN panel will decide Julian Assange's confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London is "arbitrary detention", Sweden's foreign ministry has said.

The WikiLeaks founder, who is wanted for extradition on a rape accusation in Sweden and has lived in the embassy since June 2012, said earlier Thursday that he expected to be treated as a free man if the panel rules in his favour.

A Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed that the UN panel, due to publish its findings on Friday, had concluded that Assange was “arbitrarily detained”.

"We can only note that the working panel has come to another conclusion than Swedish judicial authorities," a ministry spokeswoman told AFP, a day before the panel was to formally publish its report.

In September 2014, Assange filed a complaint against Sweden and Britain to the UNWGAD, claiming his confinement in the embassy amounted to illegal detention.

Their judgment is not legally binding but can be used to apply pressure on states in human rights cases.

Assange's Swedish lawyer Per Samuelsson told AFP that a ruling in his client's favour meant prosecutor Marianne Ny would have to ask a court to lift the arrest warrant issued against him.

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