UN panel 'has ruled in favour of Julian Assange'
A United Nations panel considering whether Julian Assange has been detained arbitrarily, after spending years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, has ruled in his favour, it was reported yesterday.
No official announcement was made but the BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme said it understood the decision had been communicated to the British and Swedish governments.
The fugitive Wikileaks founder had earlier said he would turn himself over to British police if the panel ruled he had not been arbitrarily detained.
Wikileaks said it was waiting for "official confirmation" of the ruling by the UN panel.
A UN spokesman was unable to clarify whether Mr Assange's representatives, or either government, had been given advanced sight of findings by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which are due to be formally published today.
Mr Assange was alleged to have raped a woman known as SW, then aged 26, and committed other sexual offences against AA, a 31-year-old woman, in Sweden in 2010.
The lesser sexual allegations have now lapsed because of the Swedish statute of limitations, or the maximum time within which criminal charges must be brought, but the rape allegation could see charges brought as late as 2020.
Mr Assange has denied the allegations.
"Should the UN announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the United Kingdom and Sweden, I shall exit the embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal," he said in a statement.
"However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me."
The Australian fears he could eventually face extradition to the United States to be put on a trial over the leak of hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents.
A spokesman for the British Government said: "We will not pre-empt any opinions from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
"We have been consistently clear that Mr Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but 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 Mr Assange to Sweden." (© Daily Telegraph London)