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UK says Assange is avoiding arrest, to extradite him to Sweden

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media outside the Ecuador embassy in west London on August 19, 2012. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Thursday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had avoided arrest by fleeing to the Ecuadorian embassy and that it was under obligation to extradite him to Sweden over an outstanding rape allegation.

Assange’s 3-1/2 year stay in the Ecuadorian embassy in London amounts to “unlawful detention,” a United Nations panel examining his appeal will rule on Friday, the BBC reported.

“We have been consistently clear that Mr Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy,” a government spokeswoman said.

“An allegation of rape is still outstanding and a European Arrest Warrant in place, so the UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden.”

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison

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