Julian Assange slams Philip Hammond, saying UK and Sweden risk undermining the UN if they do not let him go

 
Emma Haslett
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Assange has been in hiding at the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 (Source: Getty)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said the UK and Sweden risk undermining the UN if they do not implement a ruling by a UN working group, which said he has been held under arbitrary detention in London's Ecuadorian embassy since 2012.

At a press conference today, Assange criticised a statement by foreign secretary Philip Hammond, who said the UK did not accept the ruling by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that found he has been arbitrarily detained during his period of hiding.

"[Hammond's] statements are simply for domestic consumption. They have no relevance. It is the end of the road for legal arguments... put simply, those arguments lost. There is no appeal. The time for appeal is over.

"I find those comments to be beneath the stature that a foreign minister should express in this situation. This is a serious finding," he said.

"It adds to an already important body of international law. While I understand the momentary political imperatives for representatives of Sweden and the UK to look like they were correct in their earlier unlawful decision, the fact is they were not. There has been a final decision. There is no ability to appeal to the UN. The lawfulness of my detention or otherwise is now a matter of settled law."

Lawyers for Assange have reasserted that he has been held under arbitrary detention since 2012, when he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy.

A representative for Assange called his stint at the embassy "a form of mental torture", adding that the continued execution of the European Arrest Warrant was "abusive".

Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 after skipping bail when he was ordered to go to Sweden to face charges of rape. Since then, he has argued that his health has deteriorated.

This morning a statement by the Foreign Office denied Assange had been arbitrarily detained.

“Julian Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK," he said.

"The opinion of the UN Working Group ignores the facts and the well-recognised protections of the British legal system. He is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorian embassy. 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 him to Sweden. As the UK is not a party to the Caracas Convention, we do not recognise ‘diplomatic asylum’.

The Metropolitan police has said it continues to have a warrant out for Assange's arrest.

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