UN: WikiLeaks founder arbitrarily detained, should be released

[JURIST] The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [official website] on Thursday released a statement [press release] finding that Julian Assange [BBC profile], founder of the controversial website WikiLeaks [website], has been arbitrarily detained in the UK since 2010. Assange was initially arrested in December of 2010 stemming from rape allegations in Sweden. Assange was placed on house arrest in the UK, and in 2012 fled to the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has been hiding out since. Considering his time spent in prison, house arrest and in the embassy, three of the five members of the UN group found his to be detention a deprivation of liberty and arbitrary. In their statement, the group called for Assange's release and compensation, stating "[t]he Working Group maintains that the arbitrary detention of Mr. Assange should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected, and that he should be entitled to an enforceable right to

WIkiLeaks, and its founder Assange, have created significant controversy since the website began openly publishing government secrets. In May 2015, the Swedish Supreme Court rejected [JURIST report] an appeal by Assange seeking to overturn a 2010 arrest warrant for alleged sexual assault that was reissued [JURIST report] by a lower court in late 2014. The warrant requires Assange to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has found asylum and travel to Sweden in order to be questioned about the allegations. The WikiLeaks trials [JURIST op-ed] have also garnered much debate in the US. Last year US Army Major General Jeffery Buchanan upheld [JURIST report] Private Chelsea Manning's conviction and prison sentence for turning over classified information to WikiLeaks. In September 2013 Manning filed for a presidential pardon of the 35-year sentence [JURIST reports] she received in August. The sentence came a month after she was found guilty [JURIST report] of violating the Espionage Act but was acquitted of the more serious charge of "aiding the enemy."

A previous version of this article indicated that Assange faced rape charges, but he has not been charged with any crime in Sweden.
February 19, 2016 10:57 AM

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