UN panel determines Assange "arbitrarily detained"

Julian Assange giving a speech in 2015 at the Ecuador embassy. Photo: Reuters

A UN panel has concluded that Julian Assange is being "arbitrarily detained," reports the BBC

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012, knowing that he will be arrested if he leaves. Originally detained in connection to rape and sexual assault claims out of Sweden, Assange says the claims are false and crafted to disrupt his whistleblowing work.

Downing Street said the panel's ruling would not be legally binding in the UK while a European Arrest Warrant remained in place.

"We have been consistently clear that Mr Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy," he added.

"The UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden."
The Swedish foreign ministry said in a statement that it noted the UN panel's decision "differs from that of the Swedish authorities".