A United Nations (U.N.) human rights group on Friday called for United Kingdom authorities to allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy without fear of being arrested or extradited.
The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention doubled down on its 2016 assertion that Assange had been de facto unlawfully held without charge in the embassy in London, where he has remained for more than six years.
Assange initially took asylum to preclude being extradited to Sweden, Reuters reported. Swedish authorities sought to question Assange in connection with a sexual assault investigation that was ultimately dropped.
The United Kingdom has said Assange will be arrested for skipping bail if he departs the embassy. Assange, who has denied the Swedish allegations, has said that the charge was part of a scheme to take him to the U.S., where prosecutors are preparing a criminal case against him for leaking thousands of classified U.S. government documents, Reuters noted.
"The Swedish investigations have been closed for over 18 months now, and the only ground remaining for Mr. Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post facto justify the more than 6 years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador," the human rights experts wrote.
“It is time that Mr. Assange, who has already paid a high price for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of opinion, expression and information, and to promote the right to truth in the public interest, recovers his freedom,” they concluded.
The group expressed concern that Assange's "deprivation of liberty" was detrimental to his health and could "endanger his life."