Transparency campaigner should be released from "arbitrary detention"

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Human Rights Council. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The founder of the Wikileaks website, which has published confidential diplomatic documents, should be allowed to go free, a UN expert panel has said.

Julian Assange claimed asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012 after being arrested on sexual assault charges.

The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said Mr Assange's "physical integrity and freedom of movement" should be respected and that he should not be deprived of his liberty.

Dianne Penn has more details.

Julian Assange's Wikileaks website made headlines around the world when in 2010 it published classified diplomatic documents owned by the US government and others.

One image reportedly showed US soldiers shooting dead 18 civilians from a helicopter in Iraq.

Following the Wikileaks revelations, he was detained in the UK after Sweden issued an international arrest warrant over allegations of sexual assault.

He was put under house arrest but later fled to Ecuador's London embassy.

The task of the UN Working Group was to decide if he was being arbitrarily detained.

Sètondji Roland Adjovi is on the five-person panel.

"The finding is very clear and the recommendation is made to the two States concerned, Sweden and United Kingdom, to bring the arbitrary detention to an end. It doesn't relate to anything else in his overall case. It's only his situation we found to be a detention in arbitrary and that's all what is within our mandate. What will happen to the case against him in Sweden, we were not involved in that and we were not concerned by that. But the lack of due diligence implies that the Swedish prosecutor to take prompt measure to bring this investigation to an end as quickly as possible."

The UK Foreign Office has said that the findings "change nothing" and that it will "formally contest the working group's opinion."

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’33″

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