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Assange appeals for consular help after UN panel finds human rights breaches -

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ELIZABETH JACKSON: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called on the Australian Government to provide consular help so he can leave London, after the United Nations found that he'd been detained and subjected to various forms of deprivation of liberty.

The British foreign secretary says any suggestion that Mr Assange should be allowed to go free is ridiculous.

But Julian Assange has accused the British government of denying his children access to their father.

The Australian citizen is still inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, which has been his home for the past three-and-a-half years.

From there, our Europe correspondent James Glenday reports.

(Sound of acoustic guitarist and flautist playing amidst street chatter)

JAMES GLENDAY: Outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, supporters sang as the press pack waited for sight or sound of a man authorities say is a fugitive.

SINGER (sings): There's a lot to learn / From keepin' secrets...

JAMES GLENDAY: But inside, Julian Assange's attention was elsewhere.

CHRISTOPHE PESCHOUX: The experts also found that the detention was arbitrary...

JAMES GLENDAY: In Geneva, Christophe Peschoux was announcing the UN panel he leads has found the Australian has been treated illegally.

CHRISTOPHE PESCHOUX: Five years, the investigation is still preliminary. No charges have been filed against him, but still he's deprived of his liberty. If this is not arbitrary, what is arbitrary detention?

JAMES GLENDAY: Mr Assange has been holed up in the embassy since 2012 to avoid being arrested and extradited to Sweden, where he faces an allegation of rape.

He denies the claim and fears ultimately being taken to the US and prosecuted over the WikiLeaks website that he founded.

The 44 year old's legal team, which includes Australian Melinda Taylor, successfully argued that UK and Sweden had effectively imprisoned Mr Assange and now want him to be compensated.

MELINDA TAYLOR: Well, the bars or the prison bars which keep him in there is the risk that he faces of extradition to the United States.

It's like being surrounded by a moat filled with crocodiles: Yes, you can leave but no, you can't be expected to subject yourself to that risk.

JAMES GLENDAY: But even though the five-person UN panel found in his favour, it wasn't a unanimous decision - and the UK foreign secretary Phillip Hammond insists nothing has changed.

PHILLIP HAMMOND: Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He is hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian embassy. He can come out onto the pavement any time he chooses. He's not being detained by us.

This is a, frankly, a ridiculous finding by the working group and we reject it.

JAMES GLENDAY: The man of the moment held a press conference via video link to demand the authorities back down, before appearing triumphantly on a balcony to brandish a document containing the decision.

JULIAN ASSANGE: This is a victory that cannot be denied. It is a victory of historical importance, not just for me, for my family, for my children; but for the independence of the UN system.

JAMES GLENDAY: The UK will formally contest the finding while Mr Assange's lawyers are preparing for a fresh fight through the courts - and they've now formally asked the Australian Government for consular help.

SINGER: Look out for truth...

JAMES GLENDAY: Julian Assange and his singing supporters have undoubtedly had a moral victory, but at the embassy little has changed. And it seems he could still remain there for a very long time.

In London, this is James Glenday reporting for Saturday AM.