Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said on Friday that he had been unlawfully detained without charge for five-and-a-half years, hours after a United Nations panel ruled that he should be allowed to walk free. Assange, who has sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 to avoid questioning in Sweden on allegations of sexual misconduct, said that the UN working group's decisions were legally binding and he feels vindicated.
Addressing London's Frontline Club via teleconference, Assange said, "There has been a final decision. There is no ability to appeal the decision of the United Nations...The lawfulness of my detention is now a matter of settled law. It is the end of the road for legal arguments being presented by Sweden and UK. Those arguments lost."
Assange also said the United Kingdom has been "breaking the law" by refusing to grant him freedom. The UK government earlier rejected the UN panel ruling that the whistleblower should be allowed to walk free and compensated for his “deprivation of liberty”, as he was “arbitrarily detained” since his arrest in 2010.
The UN panel’s ruling is not legally binding in the UK, and the European Arrest Warrant against Assange remains in place. This means that the UK still has a legal obligation to extradite him. The 44-year-old faces extradition to Sweden over a rape allegation that he has denied. Assange had sought asylum in the Ecuador Embassy in London in 2012. He had said earlier that he will leave the Ecuadorian Embassy and surrender if he lost the case.