The world's longest game of hide and seek could be about to end, with the news that Julian Assange may give himself up to British police this Friday.
The WikiLeaks founder has spent the last three-and-a-half years staying in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, ever since Swedish authorities attempted to extradite him for questioning relating to sexual assault allegations by two women against him. He has always maintained that the allegations are merely a ruse to ultimately extradite him to the United States, where he would no doubt face serious charges relating to sensitive material posted on his site. He has not been charged with any offence and is just wanted for questioning.
A United Nations working group is studying the legality of his situation and is expected to pass a ruling on Friday: if it does not come down in Assange's favour, he is expected to finally give himself up to authorities.
The decision is a legal attempt to obtain a ruling that his detention is arbitrary and unlawful; he argues that by not being able to access asylum in Ecuador - despite being granted it by the country, hence his stay in their Embassy - it amounts to a long-term detention.
However, in a statement released on Twitter, he said: “Should the UN announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the United Kingdom and Sweden, I shall exit the embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal. 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.”
Last month saw a deal finally reached that would see Assange interviewed by Swedish prosecutors at the embassy - however this may not now be necessary. When questioning does happen, Assange will only have to answer relating to one allegation of rape; inquiries into two counts of alleged sexual molestation and one count of alleged unlawful coercion ceased in August 2015 after Swedish authorities announced that the offences had reached their statute of limitations.
Assange entered the embassy, situated in Knightsbridge, in 2012 and was under constant supervision by Scotland Yard until October, at a cost to the public of at least £11.1m. That was well worth it, wasn't it guys?