A United Nations panel has ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been “arbitrarily detained”, the BBC reported on Thursday.
No comment was immediately available from the United Nations in Geneva, where the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has been considering a request by Assange for a ruling.
Assange, 44, is wanted in Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape in 2010, which he denies. He took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June 2012 to avoid extradition.
Earlier on Thursday, Assange has said he will turn himself over to British police on Friday if a UN panel rules he has not been arbitrarily detained, after spending more than three years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
“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,” he said in a statement Thursday. The police said they would arrest him if he exited the embassy.
“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.”
Assange founded Wikileaks in 2006, and its activities including the release of 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and 250,000 diplomatic cables have infuriated the United States.
The main source of the leaks, US Army soldier Chelsea Manning, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for breaches of the Espionage Act.
WikiLeaks has said Sweden’s handling of his case has left a “black stain” on the country’s human rights record.
In September 2014, Assange filed a complaint against Sweden and Britain to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention claiming his confinement in the embassy amounts to illegal detention.
“The only protection he has... is to stay in the confines of the embassy; the only way for Mr Assange to enjoy his right to asylum is to be in detention,” the submission said.
“This is not a legally acceptable choice,” it added, according to a file posted on the website justice4assange.com.