Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said on Thursday that he would turn himself in to the British police if a United Nations panel ruled that the years he has spent in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, trying to avoid extradition to Sweden, did not constitute a de facto form of illegal imprisonment.
A ruling in Mr. Assange’s case from the panel on arbitrary detention is expected on Friday. “Should the U.N. 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,” Mr. Assange said in a statement posted by WikiLeaks’ official Twitter account early Thursday morning.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) February 4, 2016
Assange, 44, has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than three years and has been granted political asylum by the Ecuador government.
British police said they would arrest the Wikileaks founder if he leaves the embassy.
“The warrant is still in place. If he leaves the embassy we will make every effort to arrest him,” a spokesman for the British police said.
According to the Justice4Assange website, on Friday the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) will publicly announce its verdict in the application made by Assange for “request of relief” in the case brought against him by Sweden.
The WGAD decision was made two weeks ago and has been provided to the countries involved.
The Australian is wanted for questioning in Sweden over a sex assault allegation, which he has always denied.
“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 the statement posted on the Wikileaks Twitter account.
“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.”
In the application to the WGAD, Assange’s team submitted that he “has been deprived of fundamental liberties against his will”, the deprivation of his liberty is “arbitrary and illegal”, and he “faces a serious risk of refoulement to the United States”.
Assange fears Sweden will extradite him to the United States, where he could be put on trial over WikiLeaks’ publication of classified military and diplomatic documents, one of the largest information leaks in US history.