February 5, 2016 - Updated on March 8, 2016

RSF hails UN committee’s position on Assange

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is “extremely pleased” by the stand taken by the United Nations in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In a report issued today, a UN committee of five independent experts said it regarded the Australian’s confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London as “arbitrary detention.” The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said Assange has the “right to freedom of movement” and to “compensation.” However, the committee’s finding is not binding and the UK police have already reiterated that they will arrest Assange as soon as he sets foot outside the embassy.

“Ever since the start of Julian Assange’s confinement inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, we have repeatedly said that Sweden’s judicial proceedings against Assange should not be the prelude to extradition to the United States,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

“However, in the absence of guarantees, the possibility that the founder of WikiLeaks could be sent against his will to face criminal charges in the United States in connection with the leaks posted on the website is not only not negligible but in fact poses a major threat both to himself and, more broadly, to freedom of information.

“We urge the British and Swedish authorities to heed this very clear message from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, if only not to undermine the activities of this committee, which works extensively on the horrors committed in despotic countries.”

Deloire added: “We also call on the United States to ensure that WikiLeaks and Assange enjoy the rights guaranteed by the Constitution’s First Amendment. It is vital that democracies do not disgrace themselves by violating the very principles on which they are founded.”

© Photo AFP