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U.N. panel decision “a victory that cannot be denied”, says WikiLeaks’ Assange

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Updated: 10:39 GMT, Feb 6, 2016 | Published: 09:49 GMT, Feb 6, 2016 |
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday (February 5) hailed his “sweet” victory after a U.N. panel ruled he had been arbitrarily detained and should be awarded compensation.

“How sweet it is. This is a victory that cannot be denied. It’s a victory of historic importance, not just for me, for my family, for my children, but for the independence of the U.N. system,” he said as he spoke to supporters from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy where he has been holed up for the past three-and-a-half years.

Assange, a computer hacker who enraged the United States by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, has been inside the embassy since June 2012 to avoid a rape investigation in Sweden.

Both Britain and Sweden denied that Assange was being deprived of freedom, noting he had entered the embassy voluntarily. Britain said it could contest the decision and that Assange would be arrested if he left the embassy.

Brandishing a copy of the U.N. panel’s decision from the balcony in the Knightsbridge area of London, Assange called on Britain and Sweden to implement the ruling.

“This is a decision under international military law, binding covenants, which the U.K., Sweden and the United States for the most part have agreed to. U.N. last night issued a statement stating that the determination is legally binding. There have been comments from Philip Hammond, the Foreign Minster of this country, today saying this changes nothing,” he said.