Julian Assange.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Global Panorama, used under CC BY-SA

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's detention in the Ecuadorian embassy in London was "arbitrary," according to a UN panel that has investigated his case, the Swedish Foreign Ministry said.

A UN working group is set to publish a determination on whether Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, is in effect illegally detained there.

The working group's findings were to be made public Friday, but a Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told dpa the panel considered Assange's "detention ... arbitrary and in violation of international conventions."

Ecuador granted Assange asylum because he was afraid of a possible extradition to the United States, where he is wanted in connection with WikiLeaks' publication of top secret diplomatic cables.

The Foreign Ministry and Swedish government conclude that the UN working group has reached a different conclusion than Swedish judicial authorities, the spokeswoman added.

The BBC on Thursday claimed to know that the panel would rule in favour of Assange.

Assange's legal team said the BBC report came from a deliberate leak by the British government, who already knew the UN panel's decision.

Assange said he would hand himself in to British police Friday in the event of an unfavourable decision from a UN investigation.

"I will accept arrest by British police on Friday if UN rules against me," the 44-year-old Australian said on Twitter.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is a five-member independent and impartial body appointed by the UN. Its current members are from Australia, Benin, Mexico, South Korea and Ukraine.

Latest news

Syrian forces close in on city held by Turkish-backed rebels

Syrian government forces on Sunday seized a town from the Islamic State extremist militia near the northern city of al-Bab already under the control of Turkish-backed rebels, Syrian state media and monitors reported.

At least 90 Christian families escape Sinai attacks

At least 90 families reached Egypt's Ismailiya governorate, after escaping targeted killings by a local Islamic State militia in northern Sinai in recent days, an official at the Coptic Orthodox Church said Sunday.

40,000 Croats suffer from anorexia and bulimia

More than 40,000 Croatians, mostly girls and young women aged between 12 and 30, suffer from anorexia, bulimia or some other eating disorder and that number is growing each year, experts at the centre for eating disorders BEA have reported.

Iranian ex-president Ahmadinejad praises Trump

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote a personal letter to Donald Trump in which he praised the US president and wished him well in his tenure, local media reported Sunday.

Russians honour slain opposition leader Nemtsov in Moscow rally

A demonstration on the second anniversary of the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov drew thousands of people to the streets of Moscow on Sunday.

Iran President Rowhani to run for second term

Iranian President Hassan Rowhani is to stand for a second four-year term in office, Vice-President Hussein-Ali Amiri announced Sunday.

Five injured as car hits pedestrians in south-east London

A man was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and drink-driving on Sunday after five people were injured by a car he was driving in south-east London, police said.

Iraq retakes first neighbourhood in western Mosul from Islamic State

For the first time Iraqi forces have retaken control of a neighbourhood in the the western section of Mosul as they battle to drive the Islamic State group from their last key Iraqi stronghold, a senior commander said Sunday.

Dutch floating sheerleg arrives in Sibenik

The Italian tugboat Megara towed in the Sibenik naval port on Sunday the 72-metre long Dutch floating sheerleg "Taklift 7" which will lift a mega-yacht from a synchrolift in the NCP Repair Shipyard.

16 killed, 50 injured in truck accident in north-eastern India

At least 16 people were killed Sunday and 50 injured when the truck they were travelling in overturned on a curve and hit a barrier on the side of the road, police in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya said.

Trump's wall threatens rich wildlife along US-Mexican border

A continuous wall of the kind planned along the US-Mexican border could be an impenetrable barrier for many wild animals already affected by existing fences.

19-year-old men arrested for putting up anti-Serb stickers in Vukovar, minister condemns incident

Police have arrested a 19-year-old man, suspected of putting up anti-Serb stickers reading  "Serbian Family Tree" with an image of people hanging from a tree and the face of Ante Pavelic, Croatian fascist dictator who led the World War II Ustasha movement and the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), at bus stops along Trpinjska Street in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar.