GENEVA - A UN panel of independent experts said on Friday that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was being detained arbitrarily in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and should be released and compensated.
"The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers that the various forms of deprivation of liberty to which Julian Assange has been subjected constitute a form of arbitrary detention," the group's head, Seong-Phil Hong, said in a statement.
"The Working Group maintains that the arbitrary detention of Mr Assange should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected, and that he should be entitled to an enforceable right to compensation."
Britain said it would contest the panel's opinion, and said the computer hacker would be arrested if he left the embassy.
"This changes nothing. We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention. The UK has already made clear to the UN that we will formally contest the working group's opinion," a government spokesman said.
"He is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy," the spokesman said. "An allegation of rape is still outstanding and a European Arrest Warrant in place, so the UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite him to Sweden."