UK
05/02/2016 10:49 GMT | Updated 05/02/2016 10:59 GMT

Julian Assange: UN Panellist Vladimir Tochilovsky Wrote Against Decision Laying Blame With WikiLeaks' Founder

The lone dissenter on the UN group that held Julian Assange was being "arbitrarily detained" blamed the WikiLeaks founder for his predicament and said the group should not even have considered the case.

Assange has welcomed the ruling by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, calling it a "vindication" that should compel Britain and Sweden to stop pursuing him over an allegation of rape. He has hidden from extradition in the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge for three-and-a-half-years.

Of the group's five members, one recused herself and another, Ukrainian international law expert Vladimir Tochilovsky, vehemently disagreed with the others.

assange

Julian Assange and Vladimir Tochilovsky

Tochilovsky, the longest-serving member of the group, said his colleagues were "assuming" that Assange's prolonged embassy stay was due to him being detained by British authorities.

"In fact, Mr Assange fled bail in June 2012 and then stays at the premises of the embassy, using them as a safe haven to evade arrest," he wrote.

He even said the case went beyond the working group's remit because it had previously ruled it should not consider "situations that do not involve deprivation of liberty".

This meant Assange's "self-confinement" was a matter for an another, "appropriate" UN body or The European Court on Human Rights. He said any application by Assange to these bodies could be declared inadmissible because the working group had already reviewed his case.

"[The ruling] raises serious questions as to the scope of the mandate of the working group," he wrote.

He also disagreed with the panel's finding that Assange's time on police bail in Britain, before he entered the embassy, amounted to arbitrary detention.

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While Assange challenged his extradition through the courts, he lived at the East Anglia country mansion of his friend Vaughan Smith, during which time his bail conditions required he regularly report to police and stay in the mansion overnight.

In his dissent, Tochilovsky wrote: "Mr Assange was allowed to leave the mansion where he was supposed to reside while litigating against extradition in the courts of the United Kingdom.

"As soon as his last application was dismissed by the Supreme Court in June 2012, Mr Assange fled the bail."

The ruling that Assange was arbitrarily detained was agreed by three of the group's members, South Korea's Seong-Phil Hong, Mexico's José Guevara and Benin's Sètondji Adjovi.

They said Assange had suffered "continued deprivation of liberty that had been conducted in breach of the principles of reasonableness, necessity and proportionality".

The WikiLeaks Twitter account, which many believe is run by Assange himself , tweeted "a prosecutor from Ukraine" was the lone opinion.

Journalist Anshel Pferrer replied:

Dominic Grieve, human rights lawyer and former attorney general, said he found the UN group's opinion "very strange".

He told Radio Four's World At One that Assange's 550 days under "house arrest" was simply police bail conditions and he spent the time in a "rather large house".

"The reason why this lasted 550 days was he spent those days challenging the extradition all the way to the Supreme Court," Grieve added.

"That's what it actually too so long. It's rather difficult to conclude that there was anything arbitrary about this process."

He also queried the group's conclusion that the European Arrest Warrant was unlawful because the UK has subsequently changed the law on such warrants.

He told the programme: "That's something his lawyers could seek to get further review in our courts. I don't think it would get very far but it's something he could do.

"The conclusion that there's arbitrariness underpinning this, I do find very strange."