Is Wikileaks founder Julian Assange free? What you need to know

A UN panel has ruled Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been "arbitrarily detained", the BBC has reported.

Why is he still in the Ecuadorian Embassy?

Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks, a transparency organisation which made its name by publishing secret US government documents online.

He was arrested in London in 2010 under a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden, over claims of sexual assault from two women, which Assange denies and says are politically motivated.

Assange sought asylum inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London after the UK's supreme court ruled in favour of his extradition, and has been holed up there for the last three and a half years.

In 2014, Assange complained to the UN that he was being "arbitrarily detained" as he could not leave the embassy without arrest.

The matter has been investigated by a panel of legal experts, the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, who have taken evidence from the UK and Sweden.

What is the latest?

On Thursday morning Assange tweeted a statement from the Wikileaks account, claiming he would accept arrest by the Metropolitan Police if the UN ruled against him:

BBC News has reported that they understand the UN's panel has ruled in favour of Assange.

The official announcement of the decision will take place on Friday, however.

What does this mean?

If the UN announce a ruling in favour of Assange, they will order that the UK and Sweden must immediately release and compensate him.

However, the panel has no formal influence over the British and Swedish authorities seeking his arrest, and the Foreign Office has previously said it still has an obligation to extradite him.

Prior to the announcement the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said he would be arrested if he left the embassy and a warrant for this remains in place.

A spokesperson said:

The operation to arrest Julian Assange does, however, continue and should he leave the embassy the MPS will make every effort to arrest him.


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