Speaking from a balcony at the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Friday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called on Britain and Sweden to stop pursuing him. Assange is asking the two nations to recognize a recent ruling by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention which stated that Assange was being arbitrarily detained and therefore should be released and awarded compensation.
“How sweet it is. This this a victory that cannot be denied,” said Assange according to Reuters. “What right does this government, or the U.S. government, or the Swedish government have to deny my children their father?”
Julian Assange is an Australian computer hacker and the founder of the organization Wikileaks, a radical journalist organization that publishes leaked documents. Wikileaks came to prominence in 2010 after Private Chelsea Manning leaked thousands of documents, including the “Collateral Murder” video of Iraqi journalists being shot and killed by an American Apache helicopter in Iraq. Wikileaks also released hundreds of thousands of documents related to the War in Afghanistan and Iraq known as the Afghan War Diary and the Iraq War Logs.
The work of Wikileaks, and Julian Assange’s role as founder and face of the operation, has made him a target for the U.S. and British governments. Assange was also previously accused of rape allegations in Sweden. He believes these charges are trumped up to force extradition and force him to face charges for the leaks. Since the summer of 2012, Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. If he leaves the building he will be arrested and charged.
Reuters reports that British officials say that Assange voluntarily entered the embassy and is not being forced to stay. Assange has said that his rights are being infringed because he is incapable of pursuing asylum in Ecuador.
“Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He is hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian embassy,” British foreign minister Philip Hammond told Reuters. “This is frankly a ridiculous finding by the working group and we reject it.”
It will be difficult for Assange to go free if the U.S. and British governments refuse to acknowledge the ruling. Still, Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, called on the two nations to let Assange go free. “What more do they want to be accused of before they start to rectify their error?” Patino reportedly said to South American broadcaster Telesur regarding Britain and Sweden.
Seong-Phil Hong, the head of the U.N. panel said “the arbitrary detention of Mr. Assange should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected, and that he should be entitled to an enforceable right to compensation.”
Following the panel’s decision, Sweden’s prosecution authority announced that chief prosecutor Marianne Ny is applying to interview Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy regarding the rape allegations.
“In relation to the report which was released last week, I can state that it does not change my earlier assessment in the preliminary investigation,” Ny said.