Tomorrow, a UN panel will release its ruling on whether Julian Assange's detention at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London is arbitrary. The Wikileaks founder has been wanted by Swedish officials on sexual assault and rape allegations since 2012. Assange sought refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after Ecuador granted him asylum, and he has been living in the embassy building ever since.
If Assange were to step outside of the embassy, he would immediately face arrest and extradition on criminal allegations to Sweden. However, it appears that Assange has had enough of his captive lifestyle in the embassy building. He recently said that if a UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions does not rule in his favor, he will allow himself to be arrested by British authorities.
Fortunately for Assange, it appears that the UN panel will be ruling in his favor. In fact, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Foreign Ministry says that the panel has already ruled his detention to be "arbitrary." The BBC also reported that the panel would be ruling in Assange's favor, but it did not cite its source for this information. The news will be officially released on Friday.
UN Ruling May Help Prevent Assange from Being Arrested
If the detention of Assange in the embassy is ruled to be arbitrary, Assange hopes that he will no longer face the threat of arrest by London officials, and that he will not be extradited to Sweden to be questioned about the rape allegations brought against him -- allegations that he vehemently denies. Two claims of sexual assault and one rape claim were initially brought against him in Sweden, but last year the two assault claims were dropped. The rape allegations continue to stand.
U.K. officials say that Assange is not being arbitrarily detained. A government spokesman said to the BBC, "We have been consistently clear that Mr. Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the U.K. but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean Embassy ... The U.K. continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden."
Favorable Ruling Could Provide Assange with a Moral Advantage
Assange worries that if he is extradited to Sweden, he will then be extradited to the United States where he will be put on trial for publishing U.S. secrets on the Wikileaks website.
An attorney representing Assange says that the UN ruling will not be legally binding, and there will still be the risk of arrest and extradition, but it will offer a moral force in favor of Assange. The attorney said that Sweden's prosecutor "is not formally bound by the decision by the UN, but morally it is very difficult to go against it."
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