If you wanted proof that the bureaucratic minions of the United Nations have completely lost touch with reality, the Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has provided it in spades. In Opinion No. 54/2015 Concerning Julian Assange, the majority of the Working Group (one sane person dissented) told the world the Australian’s self-imposed exile within the depths of Ecuador’s London embassy is, in fact, the arbitrary deprivation of Assange’s liberty by the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom. Oh, and he should be compensated as well. What an absolute joke.
Before we go too far, let’s go back a few years and remind ourselves of how the story of Mr. Assange reached this point. On 11 August 2010, he arrived in Sweden on a speaking trip. After only 10 days in the country, the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office issued an arrest warrant for him on charges of rape and molestation in relation to two women. While that warrant was eventually withdrawn, the investigation continued and Mr. Assange left Sweden for London. On the 18 November 2010, the Stockholm District Court approved a request by a Swedish prosecutor that Assange be detained on probable cause under suspicion of rape, two counts of sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. An international arrest warrant was then issued for Assange on 20 November 2010.
As Assange sees it, he has been detained in the UK since 7 December 2010, comprising of 10 days in Wandsworth Prison, 550 days under house arrest, and over 1300 days in the Embassy of the Republic of Ecuador. The UN Working Group agrees with Assange that his time in the Embassy constitutes “a state of an arbitrary deprivation of liberty”. But this is based on an errant and deliberate misconstruction of the term ‘detention’.
Throughout the opinion, the UN Working Group repeatedly refers to Assange being ‘detained’ and to the duration and nature of his ‘detention’. Regardless of the particular definition you apply, there are two key components to ‘detention’ in this context. Firstly, the person must be confined in some way, their liberty restricted. Secondly, that confinement occurs in a custodial setting - in other words, the person is in the charge of officers of the law. Assange’s situation reflects neither. He is not confined to the embassy - he can leave at any time he chooses, which suggests his liberty is decidedly unrestricted . Nor can the embassy, even during the time the UK Police were stationed outside waiting to arrest Assange, be in any way considered a custodial setting - it is not controlled by the UK Government and the people inside are not under the care and keeping of its officers. If we apply Assange and the Working Group’s ridiculous definition of detention, any person inside a building surrounded by police during a siege situation is being detained in custody. Utter rubbish.
Assange claims that his ‘detention’ is not by choice. It is his theory that if extradited to Sweden he will be put on a plane to the United States to face charges in relation to the release of classified military documents by Wikileaks in 2010, and may face the death penalty as a result. According to Assange, the only way he can protect himself from the risk of persecution, inhumane treatment and physical harm is to remain in the Ecuadorian embassy; indeed, the only way to enjoy his right to asylum is to remain in detention.
Could this man suffer any more greatly from delusions of grandeur? He is not under threat of persecution to a greater degree than any other person under investigation for a crime. Persecution is a very, very high bar to vault. The United States Court of Appeals has even said that the concept of persecution is an extreme one that does not encompass all treatment that could be regarded as unfair, unjust, unlawful or unconstitutional. To claim the United States potentially prosecuting Assange for breaking its laws, laws that have widespread international acceptance, amounts to persecution would cause hysterics in the chambers of a real court.
What is most galling is that Assange seeks to cloak himself with those who actually have been persecuted. He genuinely tries to paint Sweden as hypocrites in his submission to the UN by reminding the Working Group members that in Budapest in 1944 Swedish diplomats gave asylum in the Swedish Embassy to thousands of Jewish Hungarians; and that in Santiago in 1973 the Swedish Ambassador gave asylum in the embassy and safe passage to Sweden for Chileans sought by the authorities of the Pinochet regime.
Let me make this perfectly clear for you: Assange sees no difference between what is happening to him and what the Nazis did to the Jewish people of Europe. He sees no difference to what is happening to him and what the fascist junta of Chile did to those who were brave enough to oppose it. I don’t even know where to begin. For starters, Assange’s persecution is a theory in his head - the persecution of Jewish people and the Chilean opposition was real and life threatening. Assange is at risk of arrest and prosecution because he broke reasonable, internationally accepted, long-standing laws he was fully aware of. The Third Reich exterminated Jewish men and women purely because of their religion. Pinochet beat and executed people because they stood up to his fascist regime. In no world does one even get close to equating with the other. Assange should beg forgiveness for his pathetic attempt to occupy the same rarefied plane as these valorous people.
Julian Assange is a narcissistic coward. Only a narcissist would attempt to liken the plight of a computer nerd in a room in London with people who died at the hands of truly evil men. Only a coward would fail to come forward to be questioned and defend himself in court, particularly if he was truly innocent of the sexual crimes he is accused of. Assange is no hero. The UK and Swedish Governments would do well to treat this Opinion with the contempt it deserves.
 In fact, if Assange was to try to leave the embassy, instead of being forced back into the building, he would be taken a long, long way away. Definitely not confinement.