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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.


Obama tells Hollande: The US is not spying on you

President Obama has told French President Francois Hollande that the US is not spying on his phone calls.

US and French presidents have discussed the Wikileaks spying claims Credit: Reuters

The two leaders spoke by phone earlier after the release of WikiLeaks documents which claimed the National Security Agency had spied on Hollande and his two predecessors, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac.

The White House said Mr Obama had "reiterated that we have abided by the commitment we made to our French counterparts in late 2013 that we are not targeting and will not target the communications of the French president".

Mr Hollande had earlier described the allegations as "unacceptable between allies".

France responds to Wikileaks US spying claims

Wikileaks claims US intelligence agencies spied on three consecutive French presidents Credit: Reuters

Francois Hollande, the French president, has branded as "unacceptable" the reported spying by the US on three French presidents.

The allegations that the National Security Agency spied on Hollande, and before him presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, were made by Wikileaks, which cited intelligence reports.

"France will not tolerate actions that threaten its security and the protection of its interests," Hollande's office said in a statement.

"Commitments were made by the US authorities. They need to be recalled and strictly respected."

The US ambassador to Paris was summoned to the French foreign ministry on Wednesday over the claims.

Swedish prosecutors bid to question Assange

Prosecutors from Sweden have submitted a formal request to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, asking his permission to question him in London where he has claimed asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy.

The prosecutor wants to quiz him and carry out DNA tests in connection with allegations of sexual assault and rape, which Assange denies.

Julian Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy for almost three years Credit: Reuters

The Australian has been hiding inside the South American country's UK embassy for almost three years, in fear of being extradited to Sweden.

He says he believes if he was sent to Sweden, he would then be extradited to the United States where he faces being tried for one of the biggest information leaks in the country's history through his website.

Assange's Swedish lawyer has reportedly welcomed the request to question him, but said he is concerned that the process could take some time, as both Britain and Ecuador will have to give their permission for the interview to take place.

Assange has previously offered to be interviewed inside the embassy, but Swedish authorities had refused until now.

We welcome and see it also as a big victory ... for Julian Assange, that what we have demanded is finally going to happen.

– Per Samuelson, lawyer
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