WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange will 'accept arrest' if UN panel rules against him

The decision of the UN panel is expected Friday

WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange will accept arrest by the British police if a UN panel on arbitrary detention rules against him, according to a tweet by the whistle-blowing website.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is widely expected to announce its decision on Friday on an application by Assange over his confinement in the Ecuador embassy in London since 2012.

The move late Wednesday by Assange apparently aims to bring his detention at the embassy to an end, whatever be the outcome, while also putting pressure on the relevant governments to reciprocate and abide by the decision of the UN panel, if it is favorable to him.

WikiLeaks has published leaked diplomatic cables and other information that embarrassed several governments and international businesses.

In 2012, Assange was granted asylum by the government of Ecuador and has since been under the protection of the country's embassy in London. He is wanted by police in Sweden for questioning about certain allegations of sexual offenses. U.K. police have said that they would arrest Assange to meet the extradition request from Sweden if he comes out from the Ecuador embassy. Assange and his supporters fear that from Sweden, he could be transferred to the U.S. to face charges under the country's Espionage Act.

"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," Assange wrote in the Twitter message.

“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,” he added.

Although the publication of the documents were politically embarrassing to the U.S. government, it was a protected act of free speech and political expression, according to the complaint to the UN Working Group. The U.S. commenced investigating Assange and WikiLeaks, and "instigated a series of search and seizure and surveillance measures, which do not appear to be regulated by any meaningful due process in which Mr. Assange is able to assert his rights," it added.

The Human Rights Council of the UN General Assembly in September 2013 requested states to take into account the views of the Working Group and, where necessary, to take appropriate steps to remedy the situation of persons arbitrarily deprived of their liberty. States were also asked to inform the Working Group of the steps they have taken.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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