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Russian Foreign Ministry hails UN decision in Assange case

February 05, 16:42 UTC+3
A UN panel has concluded that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who has been staying at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 was arbitrarily detained
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© Gennady Khamelyanin/TASS Archive

MOSCOW, February 5 /TASS/. Moscow hopes that Sweden and Britain will take note of UN recommendation to respect Julian Assange’s right to freedom of movement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

"We hope that the Swedish and British authorities will heed the opinion of the United Nations working group and will take note of its recommendation to respect Julian Assange’s right to freedom of movement and compensate for the damage inflicted by the unlawful prosecution," the ministry said in its statement.

"The Russian Foreign Ministry has studied the information that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has officially recognized as unlawful the long detention of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange," the statement said.

"Prominent UN experts arrived at a fair conclusion that the authorities in Sweden and Britain who launched prosecution against Assange had violated a whole number of commitments on international human rights treaties, including bans on torture and inhumane treatment ; the right to a fair and impartial trial; the right to be free from torture and inhumane treatment as well as freedom of movement and free choice of a place of residence," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"WGAD is a legal mechanism for the protection of human rights. Despite the fact that its decisions are purely informative and non-binding, we hope that the Swedish and British authorities will heed the working group’s opinion and take note of its recommendations, including the one’s concerning Assange’s right to the freedom of movement and compensation for the damage inflicted by the unlawful prosecution," the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.

"That would help restoring justice with regards to a human rights activist who has exposed numerous crimes committed by the US security services in Iraq and Afghanistan to the world public and has published facts of full-scale human rights violations committed by the US authorities," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Assange has been hiding at the embassy of Ecuador in London since 2012. The WikiLeaks founder fears to be extradited to Sweden and then to the United States. Assange describes the criminal case against him as politicized. He said the US was using it as a pretext for seeking his extradition to the United States to face trial on charges of distributing classified documents.

Earlier on Friday, it became known that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that Assange had been arbitrarily detained and demanded his immediate release. Assange, who considers his detention to be unlawful, filed a lawsuit vs UK and Sweden on September 12 last year.

WGAD decisions are not legally binding and have no formal influence on legal proceedings that are under way in the United Kingdom and Sweden.

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