WORLD UN rights experts deeply concerned over Assange's 'disproportionate sentence'

WORLD

UN rights experts deeply concerned over Assange's 'disproportionate sentence'

Xinhua

03:11, May 04, 2019

Assange AFP.jpg

(File photo: AFP)

GENEVA, May 3 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations human rights experts expressed on Friday their deep concerns about WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange's proceedings in the UK and "the disproportionate sentence" of 50 weeks in prison imposed on him.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is "deeply concerned about this course of action including the disproportionate sentence imposed on Mr. Assange," according to a statement issued by the Group.

The Working Group adopted Opinion No.54 in December 2015, in which it considered that "Mr. Assange was arbitrarily detained by the Governments of Sweden and the UK."

The Group was of the view that "violating bail is a minor violation that, in the UK, carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison, even though the bond related to the bail has been lost in favor of the British Government, and that Mr. Assange was still detained after violating the bail which, in any case should not stand after the Opinion was issued."

The Working Group regretted that the UK government has not complied with its Opinion and "has now furthered the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr. Assange."

"The Working Group is further concerned that Mr. Assange has been detained since 11 April 2019 in Belmarsh prison, a high-security prison, as if he were convicted for a serious criminal offense. This treatment appears to contravene the principles of necessity and proportionality envisaged by the human rights standards," said the statement.

The UN experts recalled that the detention and the subsequent bail of Assange in the UK were connected to preliminary investigations initiated in 2010 by a prosecutor in Sweden, who did not press any charges against Assange and discontinued investigations in 2017 and brought an end to the case.

The Working Group reiterated "its recommendation to the UK government that the right of Mr Assange to personal liberty should be restored."

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail on Wednesday for breaching his bail by entering the Ecuadorian embassy in London seven years ago.

He has denied sexual assault allegations against him, and does not consent to being extradited to the U.S. over charges related to leaking government secrets.

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