London, Feb 5 (IANS) Wikileaks founder Julian Assange should be allowed to walk free and be compensated for his “deprivation of liberty”, a UN legal panel announced on Friday.
Assange, 44 – who faces extradition to Sweden over a rape claim, which he denies – claimed asylum in London’s Ecuadorean embassy in 2012, BBC reported.
The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention insisted Assange’s detention “should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected”.
“Assange should be afforded the right to compensation,” it added.
The Wikileaks founder has been subjected to “different forms of deprivation of liberty” initially while he was held in isolation at London’s Wandsworth Prison for 10 days in 2010, the panel said.
The deprivation had been “continuous” since he was first arrested in Britain on December 7, 2010.
The panel said he had then been under “house arrest and then confinement” while inside the Ecuadorian embassy.
It also found a “lack of diligence” by the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office in its investigations, which resulted in his lengthy loss of liberty.
However, a British Foreign Office spokesman said: “Julian Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK.”
In September 2014, Assange – who has been living in the Ecuadorean embassy for more than three years – complained to the UN that he was being “arbitrarily detained” as he could not leave without being arrested.
The complaint against Britain and Sweden claimed Assange has been deprived of his liberty for an “unacceptable length of time”.
In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday, Assange said his passport should be returned and his arrest warrant dropped if the UN panel ruled in his favour.
“Should the UN announce tomorrow (Friday) 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,” the statement added.