United Nations panel to rule in Julian Assange's favor, report claims

If everything goes his way in the next few days, Julian Assange could walk out of the Ecuadorean Embassy without the worry of being arrested.

In 2014, the WikiLeaks founder, who faces sexual assault charges in Sweden, petitioned the United Nations' Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, claiming that his being forced to remain in the embassy for fear of being extradited had "deprived [him] of his liberty in an arbitrary manner for an unacceptable length of time," according to the BBC. He has spent three years inside the South American nation's London compound.

The panel is expected to issue the result of its investigation into the matter on Friday, and the BBC is reporting that it will rule in Assange's favor.

Although the U.N. panel based in Geneva doesn't have any binding authority to impose its findings on the United Kingdom or Swedish judicial authorities, which have been involved in years of legal wrangling involving Assange, its decision could influence how aggressively Swedish prosecutors pursue him for questioning about the allegations.

For his part, Assange, writing on WikiLeaks' Twitter account, said that if the Working Group ruled in favor of Britain and Sweden, that he would turn himself into English police at noon on Friday.

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"However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me," Assange added.

British police said Thursday that nothing has changed regarding Assange's situation and that police will still seek to arrest him if he leaves the embassy.

Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for Swedish prosecutors, told The Associated Press on Thursday that "we have no comment now. We are waiting for the report."

Assange voluntarily took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden where two women have accused him of sexual assault.

He has said his main legal concern is a possible indictment against him in the U.S. on charges related to WikiLeaks' release of government cables.

He has expressed the fear that British and Swedish authorities plan to send him to the U.S. to face charges against him there.

British police guarded the Ecuadorean Embassy for several years but removed the round-the-clock security cordon in October.

Police said they would still seek to arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy because of a valid arrest warrant. Police said both overt and covert means would be used to keep track of him.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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