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End of the road for arguments presented by Sweden, UK: Assange on UN panel verdict

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday called for Britain and Sweden to "implement" a UN panel finding saying that he should be able to walk free from Ecuador's embassy, where he has lived in self-imposed confinement since 2012.

"It is now the task of the states of Sweden and the United Kingdom as a whole to implement the verdict," AFP quoted Assange as saying via video link from the embassy building.

Julian Assange. GettyImages

Julian Assange. GettyImages

"I consider the outcome in this case to be indication that the UN panel is the expert body in understanding the law on detention," Assange said. "While I understand the momentary political imperatives in Sweden and UK, the fact is that they are not correct," he added.

"The UN decision is final and cannot be appealed...It is the end of the road for the legal arguments being presented by Sweden and UK. Those arguments lost," said the Wikileaks founder.

Finally, an emotional Assange thanked the UN panel for the verdict and said that he misses his family and that the UN verdict brought a smile to his face. "I would like to thank the UN for considering our submissions and producing this verdict...This victory came about not just because of the situation I am in but also due to a lot of hard work," he said.

Assange's statements came after Britain's Foreign Office rejected the United Nations panel's finding that Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention.

Officials had said in a statement that Britain will formally contest the working group's opinion issued earlier in Geneva, according to AP.

The statement had said that Britain is "deeply frustrated" by the Assange situation.

"The opinion of the UN working group ignores the facts and the well-recognized protections of the British legal system," the statement had said. "He is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy."

The statement had pointed out that an allegation of rape is still outstanding and that a European Arrest Warrant is in place.

It had said that Britain has a legal obligation to extradite Assange to Sweden for questioning.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Prosecution Authority had said that the call from the UN working group for Julian Assange to be released and compensated "has no formal impact on the ongoing investigation, according to Swedish law."

Spokeswoman Karin Rosander had said the prosecutor responsible for the case is traveling and has not yet been able to comment on the case.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy since 2012 to avoid arrest and extradition to Sweden, from where he fears he would be sent to the United States.

Earlier, A UN human rights panel had said that Assange has been "arbitrarily detained" by Britain and Sweden since December 2010.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had said his detention should end and he should be entitled to compensation.

Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange over allegations of rape stemming from a working visit he made to the country in 2010 when WikiLeaks was attracting international attention for its secret-spilling ways.

Assange has consistently denied the allegations but declined to return to Sweden to meet with prosecutors and eventually sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has lived since June 2012.

With agency inputs

Updated Date: Feb 05, 2016 19:15 PM

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