The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found that Julian Assange was unlawfully detained and he should be allowed to walk free, as it was expected to rule.
After the decision was announced earlier today, Assange gave a press conference in which he called the verdict a, “vindication”.
The WikiLeaks founder went on to say, “the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is the world expert body in understanding the law of when somebody is to be detained or not detained.”
While the UN did state that its verdict was legally binding, numerous authorities have said that they will continue to pursue Assange.
The BBC reports that UK Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond called the Working Group’s opinion ridiculous and Assange a “fugitive from justice.
A spokesperson for the UK Foreign Office said, “he is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy.”
The London Metropolitan Police have also said that they will make every effort to arrest Assange should he leave the Ecuadorian embassy.
What happens now?
At this moment it is unclear whether Assange will remain in the Ecuadorian Embassy or whether he will leave. The UK Foreign Office has said that it will contest the Working Group’s decision and authorities are adamant that the arrest warrants and extradition orders remain in place.
The UN also called for Assange to be compensated for his “deprivation of liberty”. This call which will probably be unpopular given the £12.6 million (R290 million) bill the London Metropolitan Police racked up, waiting outside the Ecuadorian Embassy to arrest Assange.
You can listen to the press conference Assange gave below.
[Via – BBC] [Image CC by 2.0 – Linus Bohman]