Lawyers stir up animal pic Twitter storm against UN’s polarising Assange ruling

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By Katie King on



Controversial Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been thrown a lifeline after a UN panel ruled today that he had been “arbitrarily detained” — and lawyers can’t help but poke fun at the ruling.

44 year-old Assange has been camped out in the Ecuadorian embassy in London’s Knightsbridge for three years now, in fear that if he leaves he will be arrested and sent to Sweden to face rape charges.

Sweden’s extradition laws mean that Assange risks being deported to the USA, where he could well face a hefty prison sentence for his involvement in the contentious Wikileaks project.

Today the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) gave its much-awaited opinion on the matter. They held — pretty shockingly — that Assange is being arbitrarily detained by the Swedish and UK governments, and called for him to be paid compensation, even though he has imprisoned himself in the embassy.

Lawyers just aren’t very happy about the opinion, and where better to go to vent your frustration than Twitter?

When we spoke to lawyer and legal commentator David Allen Green about the frenzy, he told us:

Legal Twitter is at its best when quickly analysing a just published legal instrument or emerging news story. And, if there is shoddy law involved, as with this UN panel opinion, legal Twitter can be brutal.

With the Twitterati tearing the ruling to shreds, Vladimir Tochilovsky — sole dissenter on the UN panel — has come up trumps in this social media storm.

When Legal Cheek got in touch with Pump Court Chambers’ Matthew Scott, who has been tweeting about the ruling, he said:

I think the dissenting judgment says everything that needs to be said, in about 1/8th of the words, and without any Latin.

Before adding:

3 cheers for the Ukrainian guy.

While Tochilovsky is lapping up the Twitter love, the UN opinion is being met with increasing hostility — and has fallen foul to the, now trending, hashtag #arbitrarilydetained.

And lawyers are, of course, throwing in their two cents as well.

You can always count on lawyers to get in on the action.