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Iran Press TV

WikiLeaks founder criticizes UK for his 'unlawful detention'

Iran Press TV

Fri Feb 5, 2016 1:20PM

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been hold-up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, urges British and Swedish authorities to allow him walk free from the 'arbitrary detention'.

Speaking via videoconferencing on Friday, Assange said his "detention without charge was unlawful" adding that the legal arguments given by Sweden and Britain against him were "flawed".

Assange's legal team has also urged the two countries to accept the finding of a UN panel. 'We can ask the prosecutor for a review of the arrest warrant but we will first let the prosecutor have a chance to show that they respect the UN report,' Assange's lawyer in Stockholm, Thomas Olsson said.

The Geneva-based UN working group has already stood in support of the WikiLeaks founder saying his "arbitrary detention" must end. "Assange was arbitrarily detained by the governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.'

The panel issued a statement criticizing legal action against Assange and blamed the two countries for preventing him from leaving the Ecuadorian embassy. "The Swedish and British authorities should end Assange's "deprivation of liberty" and "respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement".

The UN working group said Assange can claim compensation from Britain and Sweden.

The 44-year-old Australian whistle-blower sought refuge in June 2012 in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid the threat of arrest and extradition to Sweden where he was wanted for questioning over a rape allegation.

Assange has since confined himself in a small embassy room with a rare appearance in a balcony to speak to media.

On Friday, Assange appeared in the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy holding a copy of the UN report. He said he was deprived of his family for about five years. He also warned that parties involved in his deprivation may face criminal proceedings if they don't abide by the international humanitarian law.

Meanwhile, Britain and Sweden have rejected the panel's ruling, which is non-binding. The UK foreign office called the UN ruling "ridiculous."

'This changes nothing. We completely reject any claim that Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention. The UK has already made clear to the UN that we will formally contest the working group's opinion,' a British government statement said.

And the Swedish foreign ministry said in a letter to the UN panel that ' its government does not agree with the assessment made by the majority of the Working Group'.

Swedish authorities want to speak to Assange about a rape allegation but he fears that he could then be sent to the US for the questioning over Wikileaks' activities including the release of some 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables.

Washington was infuriated by the publication of the classified files. The main source of the leaks, US Army soldier Chelsea Manning, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for breaches of the Espionage Act.

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