U.N. rights experts called on the UK government to abandon their effort to arrest the WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange and allow him to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London without arrest and extradition to the United States.
“The only ground remaining for Mr Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post facto justify the more than six years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador,” the U.N. experts said in a statement.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention repeated the findings published in 2016, that Assange has essentially been held without charge, unlawfully in the embassy, where he has been forced to take asylum now for more than six years.
“It is time that Mr Assange, who has already paid a high price for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of opinion, expression and information, and to promote the right to truth in the public interest, recovers his freedom,” the experts said.
He took asylum initially avoiding extradition to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a since dropped sexual assault investigation. Assange denied the allegations, saying the charge was a ploy for his eventual extradition to the United States.
Assange has sued Ecuador, arguing the rules violate his rights. An Ecuadorian court on Friday upheld a prior ruling dismissing Assange’s suit. Lawyers for Assange and others have said his work with WikiLeaks was critical to a free press and was protected speech.
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