Assange ‘may surrender to UK police’

Julian Assange in 2014Image copyright

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said he will turn himself over to UK police on Friday if a UN panel rules he has not been unlawfully detained.

He took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in west London in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault claim he denies.

In 2014 he complained to the UN that he was being “arbitrarily detained”.

On Twitter Mr Assange said he would accept a decision against him but hoped to walk free if it went in his favour.

The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is due to announce the findings of its investigation into Mr Assange’s case on Friday.

The panel of legal experts took evidence from the UK and Sweden. It has made previous rulings on whether imprisonment or detention is lawful although it does not have any formal influence over the British and Swedish authorities.

Return of passport

Australian Mr Assange was originally arrested in London in 2010 under a European Arrest Warrant issued by Sweden. He was granted asylum by Ecuador and entered the country’s embassy in Knightsbridge after the UK Supreme Court ruled the extradition against him could go ahead.

His Wikileaks organisation posted secret American government documents on the internet and Mr Assange says he believes Washington will seek his transfer to the US if he is sent to Sweden.

In the statement published by Wikileaks on Twitter, Mr Assange said: “Should the UN announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the United Kingdom and Sweden I shall exit the embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal.

“However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me.”

Last October, Scotland Yard said it would no longer station officers outside the Ecuador embassy following an operation which had cost it £12.6m. But it said “a number of overt and covert tactics to arrest him” would be deployed to arrest Mr Assange.

Two months earlier, Swedish officials said they were optimistic about reaching an agreement with Ecuador which could pave the way for the questioning of Mr Assange in London.

Image caption

Mr Assange issued his statement on Twitter

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