Government asks for review of Julian Assange arbitrary detention finding


The Government has formally asked a UN Working Group to review its finding that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is being subject to arbitrary detention, saying the opinion was "deeply flawed".

The Foreign Office said it rebutted a report last month by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over the actions of the UK and Swedish governments towards Mr Assange, who has been staying inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than three years.

He is wanted for questioning in Sweden over a sex allegation, which he denies, but believes he will be extradited to the United States to be quizzed about the activities of WikiLeaks if he travels.

The working group's findings that Mr Assange has been subject to arbitrary detention were challenged by the Government.

Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said: "The original conclusions of the UN Working Group are inaccurate and should be reviewed.

"We want to ensure the Working Group is in possession of the full facts. Our request for a review of the opinion sets those facts out clearly.

"Julian Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK, and is in fact voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorian embassy. The UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite him to Sweden."

The Government said the key points of its rebuttal were that the working group's opinion was deeply flawed, and Mr Assange had never been the subject of arbitrary detention, while his human rights will be protected if and when he is extradited to Sweden.

The UN group was not a judicial body and its opinions were not legally binding, said the Foreign Office.

The working group is expected to discuss the Government's request during a meeting in Geneva next month.