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UN Panel Sides With Accused Sex Offender Julian Assange

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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A U.N. panel has determined that alleged rapist and founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is being held arbitrarily in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden for allegations of the rape and molestation of two women. London’s Metropolitan police have stated that Assange will still be arrested should he leave the embassy. Assange’s complaint, filed to the U.N. Working Group On Arbitrary Detention, states that he has been “deprived of his liberty in an arbitrary manner for an unacceptable length of time.”

The claims of rape and molestation against Assange originated in August 2010 when the Swedish Prosecutor’s office filed an arrest warrant against him. A ruling by the U.K. supreme court in May 2012 said that Assange should be extradited to Sweden for questioning, which led to Assange seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in June.

Swedish prosecutors dropped two charges against Assange in August 2015, one regarding sexual molestation and another of unlawful coercion, due to statute of limitations. The rape allegation against Assange will expire in 2020.

Assange claimed he sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy out of fear that his human rights would be infringed. According to a court document submitted by Snowden’s defense team in 2011, Assange was concerned that if extradited to Sweden, he could in turn be rendered to the U.S where “there will be a risk of him being detained at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere.” The document also stated “he could be made subject to the death penalty” in the U.S.

Assange is the founder of the website WikiLeaks, which publishes leaked top secret government information. His hostility towards the U.S. in particular is well documented, with him once being quoted in 2010 saying he hoped his site would bring “the total annihilation of the current U.S. regime.”

Assange is also responsible for orchestrating the leak of over 700,000 U.S. diplomatic documents by U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning in 2010 and is known to have had a relationship with Edward Snowden, who former Defense Intelligence Agency director Michael Flynn said “caused grave damage to our national security.” Snowden would later admit to not having read all of the documents which he leaked.

Responding to Thursday’s news, Swedish prosecutors said “the statement from the Working Group [U.N. panel] has no formal impact on the ongoing investigation, according to Swedish law.”

The U.K. government has said it will continue its pursuit to arrest Assange, despite the panel’s ruling.

“An allegation of rape is still outstanding and a European Arrest Warrant in place, so the UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden,” said a U.K. spokeswoman to Sky news Wednesday.

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Russ Read