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UN Says Julian Assange Should Walk Free

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Why is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange back in the news? Because the United Nations has declared that they believe his detention to be a direct “deprivation of liberty” and a violation of his human rights, according to the BBC. The UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called on both the UK and Swedish governments to end Assange’s arbitrary detention in London's Ecuadorean embassy, where he has been under arrest since 2010. Assange, who faces potential extradition to Sweden, took asylum in the embassy after an alleged rape claim in 2012.

The UK Foreign Office said they would “formally contest” the case and that this ruling “changes nothing. We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention." The statement continued: “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.” It was also made clear that any attempts by Assange to leave the embassy would lead to his immediate arrest by the Metropolitan police. The UK is able to overrule the UN’s decision because it does not adhere to the 1954 Caracas Convention, which does not recognise diplomatic asylum.

Following the findings on Thursday, Assange declared that he will accept arrest if he chooses to leave the embassy. In a statement he also asserted: “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.”

Assange has consistently fought the rape allegations but, if he is extradited to Sweden, the country in which the rape claim was brought against him, there is every possibility that they will extradite him to the US where he could be put on trial for the release of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2010.
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