World News

Hammond calls U.N. Assange report 'ridiculous'

Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond speaks during a joint news conference with Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh at the Foreign Ministry in Amman, Jordan, February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

LONDON (Reuters) - British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond poured scorn on a UN working group report on Julian Assange, calling it ridiculous, and said the Wikileaks founder was a fugitive from justice.

The panel ruled Assange is being “arbitrarily detained” in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he fled in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden.

“I reject the decision of this working group,” Hammond told ITV news on Friday. “It is a group made up of lay people and not lawyers. Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He is hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian embassy.

“He can come out any time he chooses... But he will have to face justice in Sweden if he chooses to do so. This is frankly a ridiculous finding by the working group and we reject it.”

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison