It seems Julian Assange’s gamble has paid off… sort of. The founder of Wikileaks should be allowed to walk free, and even compensated for his “deprivation of liberty”- this was the verdict of a UN legal panel, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
The panel has determined that he has been arbitrarily detained since his 2010 arrest.
Unfortunately, though he was willing to put his liberty in the hands of the UN, the UK Foreign Office has refused to even pretend to deliberate over the group’s findings; it stated that the report “changes nothing” and that it will “formally contest the working group’s opinion“. One would think that the government most concerned over the matter would be Sweden’s, yet the British too seem to have a vested interest in seeing Assange extradited.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond even called the panel’s decision “ridiculous”, calling Assange a “fugitive from justice”. Met police will continue to make “every effort” to arrest Assange should he leave the Ecuadorean embassy.
“The Working Group considered that Mr. Assange has been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty: initial detention in Wandsworth prison which was followed by house arrest and his confinement at the Ecuadorian Embassy. Having concluded that there was a continuous deprivation of liberty, the Working Group also found that the detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation during the first stage of detention and because of the lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor in its investigations, which resulted in the lengthy detention of Mr. Assange. The Working Group found that this detention is in violation of Articles 9 and 10 of the UDHR and Articles 7, 9(1), 9(3), 9(4), 10 and 14 of the ICCPR, and falls within category III as defined in its Methods of Work. “
The UDHR is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, while the ICCPR is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The UK and Sweden are party to the Covenant, having signed and ratified it, and had voted in favor of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Apparently signing a document on human rights does not mean very much.
Assange had been held in solitary confinement in Wandsworth prison for 10 days- similar to how Chelsea Manning had been held in solitary confinement before her trial, though for a significantly longer period of about 9 months (sometimes with no clothing), and was later threatened with indefinite solitary confinement while locked away for 35 years in maximum security.
Solitary confinement is considered a form of torture, particularly for people who do not pose a threat to the physical well-being of others. Long-term solitary confinement can cause insanity, with twelve months found to have completely and irreversibly destroyed the minds of simian test subjects.
While Assange’s confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy is a significant improvement over solitary confinement, a fate that would surely befall him should he somehow be extradited to the US, the BBC found that the three and a a half years he had spent indoors was severely detrimental to his physical health- he had also stated in the past that he was suffering from high blood pressure, chronic cough and even a potentially fatal heart condition.
The UK government has refused to guarantee him safe-passage to seek treatment or diagnosis at a hospital.
The UN group further states that it has “therefore requested Sweden and the United Kingdom to assess the situation of Mr. Assange to ensure his safety and physical integrity, to facilitate the exercise of his right to freedom of movement in an expedient manner, and to ensure the full enjoyment of his rights guaranteed by the international norms on detention. The Working Group also considered that the detention should be brought to an end and that Mr. Assange should be afforded the right to compensation.”
This Article (UN Legal Panel: Julian Assange Should Be Freed, Compensated For “Deprivation of Liberty”. UK Govt: Noooope) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author(CoNN) and AnonHQ.com.