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Arbitrary Detention

On 5 February 2016, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared that Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the United Kingdom since his arrest in London on 7 December 2010.

In its statement announcing its decision, the UN group said,

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.

In response to the announcement, Assange’s legal team asked Sweden to withdraw its arrest warrant.

The British government dismissed the ruling, drawing criticism from a former UNWGAD official. The UK government asked the UN to review its findings, but the request was denied because it did not meet the threshold of a review.

In May 2016, the Swedish government upheld its arrest warrant for Assange, claiming that “probable cause for suspicion” remained, and in September, an appeals court upheld the same ruling.

[LINK within site to questioning controversy] After years of Assange’s legal team requesting Sweden take Assange’s statement, he was finally questioned at the Ecuadorian Embassy on 14-15 November 2016, by Swedish prosecutor Ingrid Isgren.

On 7 December 2016, WikiLeaks published Assange’s full testimony given to the Swedish prosecutor. The testimony, in which Assange describes “clearly consensual sex between adults”, begins,

You have subjected me to six years of unlawful, politicized detention without charge in prison, under house arrest and four and a half years at this embassy. You should have asked me this question six years ago. Your actions in refusing to take my statement for the last six years have been found to be unlawful by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and by the Swedish Court of Appeal. You have been found to have subjected me to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. You have denied me effective legal representation in this process. Despite this, I feel compelled to cooperate even though you are not safeguarding my rights.

Assange reiterates that the women who came forward were interested in STD testing, not making a criminal complaint, and that they were persuaded into doing so by Swedish police. He condemns the way the Swedish and UK governments have handled the case, including the failure to question him for more than five years.

On 19 May 19 Swedish prosecutors announced that they were withdrawing their arrest warrant for Julian Assange. The London Metropolitan Police released a statement confirming it would arrest Assange over skipping bail when he sought asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy.