UN expert to Ecuador: Don't expel Julian Assange from embassy

An expulsion may put the WikiLeaks founder at risk of "extreme vulnerability," says a UN rapporteur on torture.

Marrian Zhou
Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
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A UN torture expert urges Ecuador not to expel Julian Assange. 

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The UN Special Rapporteur on torture is concerned with Julian Assange's possible expulsion from the Ecudoran embassy in London.

Nils Melzer on Friday said he's "alarmed by reports" that the WikiLeaks founder may be expelled and wants to personally investigate the case.

"If Mr. Assange were to be expelled from the Embassy of Ecuador… [it] could expose him to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights," Melzer said in a release. "Extradition without due process safeguards, including an individual risk assessment and adequate protection measures violates international law, particularly if the destination state practices the death penalty and has not disclose the criminal charges held against the person concerned."

Assange may be expelled from the embassy, where he has lived for almost seven years, after Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno said he had "repeatedly violated" the terms of his asylum, according to Reuters. Assange in October sued Ecuador for allegedly violating his "fundamental rights and freedom."

On Thursday, Wikileaks tweeted that Assange could be expelled from the embassy within "hours to days."

Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations, which he has denied. The investigation into Assange was dropped last year, but he remains in self-imposed exile due to fear he could still be arrested by UK police for breaching bail terms. Assange said such an arrest could be followed by extradition to the US to face espionage charges.

Melzer is concerned that Assange's health is "in serious decline," according to the UN release. Melzer urges the Ecuadorian government to continue providing asylum and adequate living conditions to Assange. He also said he plans to look into the case and meet with Assange himself. 

Watch this: Step inside Julian Assange's office