WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for nearly four years to avoid extradition to Sweden, says he is prepared to surrender to police on Friday if the United Nations rules against him.
“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,” Assange said in a statement issued on early Thursday morning.
Assange added: “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.”
The WikiLeaks founder filed a complaint against Sweden and Britain in September 2014, alleging that he is being unlawfully detained after offering to be interviewed inside the embassy by Swedish prosecutors. The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is considering his complaint and is expected to issue its report on Friday morning.
Assange has been holed up inside the embassy since the summer of 2012 when Sweden sought Assange’s arrest for allegations of sexual assault. Assange later received political asylum from the Ecuadorian government and British police have been unable to enter the embassy as it is considered to be Ecuadorian territory.
A London court dismissed Assange’s appeal in November 2011 and the UK Supreme Court in June 2012 rejected his bid to reopen the case. Scotland Yard has long said that Assange will be arrested once he leaves the embassy compound, but officers ended their permanent police presence in October of last year.
The accusations are unrelated to Assange’s work for the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, which brought diplomatic earthquakes to the United States when it began releasing classified documents it had obtained. Assange, however, has claimed that the cases are politically-linked, arguing that the sexual encounters in Sweden were consensual.
Wikileaks’ first big scoop was on April 5, 2010, when it released a classified video which showed a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Iraq which left several unarmed civilians killed, including two Reuters journalists. Assange said in earlier interviews that he had been told to expect ‘dirty tricks’ from the Pentagon, including ‘sex traps’ to ruin his reputation.
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