Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Assange appeared at a press conference to respond to the UN's ruling. (Screenshot)

Assange Hails 'Significant Victory' After UN Rules He Has Been Arbitrarily Detained

WikiLeaks founder has been living under asylum in Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than three years, fearing extradition to U.S.

Nadia Prupis

A United Nations working group on Friday declared that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained for more than three years and should be freed and compensated, in a decision the Australian journalist called a "really significant victory."

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued its nonbinding opinion on Friday, a day after reports began circulating that the panel was likely to rule in Assange's favor.

"[T]he Working Group recognized that Mr. Assange is entitled to his freedom of movement and to compensation," the decision reads. It continues:

Having concluded that there was a continuous deprivation of liberty, the Working Group also found that the detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation during the first stage of detention and because of the lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor in its investigations, which resulted in the lengthy detention of Mr. Assange.

Assange, who has been living under asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, where he sought refuge after publishing thousands of classified U.S. military and State Department documents, urged authorities to abide by the decision and lift warrants calling for his arrest. He is wanted in Sweden on sexual assault allegations, but has said he fears being extradited to the U.S., where he may face charges over the leaked documents.

"I miss my family," Assange told reporters on Friday. "We have today a really significant victory that has brought a smile to my face."

"It’s now the task of Sweden and Britain to implement the verdict," he said.

But as of Friday, that seemed unlikely. The Swedish Foreign Ministry disagreed with the verdict, saying Assange was "free to leave the embassy at any point. Thus, he is not being deprived of his liberty there due to any decision or action taken by the Swedish authorities."

The UK Foreign Office made similar comments. "This changes nothing. We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention," the department said, adding that it would "formally contest" the working group's opinion.

On Twitter, whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that this kind of response "writes a pass for every dictatorship to reject UN rulings. Dangerous precedent for UK/Sweden to set."

Melinda Taylor, who brought Assange's case to the UN, called the decision "a damning indictment of the manner in which this case has been handled [and] affirms that Mr. Assange is a victim of a significant miscarriage of justice."

She added, "Now finally with today's decision, there's light at the end of the tunnel."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Architect of Texas Abortion Ban Takes Aim at LGBTQ+ Rights While Urging Reversal of Roe

"Make no mistake, the goal is to force extreme, outdated, religious-driven values on all of us through the courts."

Jessica Corbett ·


Ahead of Canadian Election, Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib Endorse NDP

"Bernie, you have fought courageously for public healthcare, affordable medication, making the rich pay their fair share, and tackling the climate crisis," said party leader Jagmeet Singh. "We're doing the same here."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Urged to End Drone Strikes After Pentagon Says Killing 10 Afghan Civilians Was 'Horrible Mistake'

"That was not a 'mistake,'" said journalist Anand Giridharadas. "War crimes are not oopsies."

Brett Wilkins ·


40+ NYC Activists Arrested for Protests Against Banks Fueling Climate Emergency

"We're sending a message loud and clear that the little action that politicians and greenwashing CEOs have taken so far does not begin to deal with the magnitude of this crisis."

Jessica Corbett ·


FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Booster Shots for People 65+ and Especially Vulnerable

The scientific advisory committee voted down a recommendation for other adults.

Common Dreams staff ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo