Assange Granted Asylum As Britain Threatens A Raid On Ecuadoran Embassy

Ecuador granted asylum to Julian Assange today, an act that will further escalate the conflict between Britain and Ecuador.  As I discussed on BBC last night, there are some common legal misunderstandings about the status of an embassy, but as a practical matter Assange should be beyond the reach of the English.  While the government has threatened to strip the embassy of diplomatic status and grad Assange, it is in my view an empty threat. However, Assange is not likely to see Ecuador any time soon since he can be arrested trying to leave the country.

Assange has embarrassed the United States with disclosures on Wikileaks that revealed, among other things that the government has lied to the public on critical matters. This includes disclosures of how the Obama Administration threatened Spain in order to protect Bush officials from being investigated for war crimes and torture.
It is widely believed that the United States government is pressuring both the government of England and Sweden on arresting Assange to allow it to extradite him. There is a rumored sealed indictment in the United States, which may prosecute Assange for espionage — a highly troubling prosecution for journalists and whistleblowers.

The British threat to raid the embassy is not legally unfounded. There is a common misunderstanding about embassies which are not legally “the soil of the foreign government.” An embassy in London sits on English soil and that country has jurisdiction over it. However, siting on that land is a building occupied with people with diplomatic immunity. As such, it is considered inviolate.

The British government is threatening to use a 1987 British law it says permits the revocation of diplomatic status of a building if the foreign power occupying it “ceases to use land for the purposes of its mission or exclusively for the purposes of a consular post.” The use of the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act however would trigger an international outcry and beg for acts of retaliations.

The the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations requires diplomats to comply with the laws of the host country and international law does not expressly endorse diplomatic asylum in such cases. That 1961 convention suggests that Ecuador is legally obligated to turn over Assange.

However, countries routinely are faced with such requests — most of which are turned away. However, the United States recently faced this very same dilemma in Beijing when a blind activist fled to our own embassy. Likewise, the U.S. faced this problem when Cardinal Mindszenty took refuge in our embassy in Budapest following the Hungarian uprising in 1956.

Ecuador may take a different view due to the agreement following the 1949 controversy over Victor Raúl Haya de la Torre, leader of the Peruvian APRA movement, who took refuge in the Colombian embassy in Lima. The International Court of Justice ruled against the claim of diplomatic asylum. This led to countries in Latin America adopting of convention supporting such claims, but England is not part of that agreement.

Technically, Ecuador could conceivable get Assange as far as the airport if he rides in an embassy car with a diplomat. However, he has to step out of that car at some point and will face arrest.

It is a classic standoff. The extent to which Britain has pursued the case and issued the threatening letter to Ecuador probably reflects the degree of pressure coming from the Obama Administration. Officials have made it clear that they want Assange’s head on a pike and the best way to do that is to get him to Sweden on the sexual assault charges. Ecuador has offered to let Swedish prosecutors interview Assange at the embassy, but that country has refused.

I would be astonished if England uses its law to strip the embassy of its status. However, I would not be surprised to learn that Obama officials are pushing for precisely that step. Many of Assange’s supporters are likely to point out that we would have to wait for the next Wikileaks dump to learn the truth on that one.

Source: CNN

108 thoughts on “Assange Granted Asylum As Britain Threatens A Raid On Ecuadoran Embassy”

  1. OK, I finally read up on the Swedish sexual assault charges against Assange and I must say that it is pretty obvious what is happening here: the concerted effort to destroy Assange by powerful governmental forces has not been as successful as their typical “crush him like a bug” scenarios usually are, so they have trumped up some total bullsh*t to assist the massive manipulation of systems that becomes necessary when the press get into any act of international tyranny ON THE “WRONG” SIDE.

    As does nearly everything, this reminds me of a much more prosaic, much less newsworthy case in our own country.

    Harford County, Maryland.

    A mother who had some pretty pronounced personality characteristics was divorced from or divorced a father who had been involved in a Christian fundamentalist church as a missionary. The mother was born Jewish but didn’t practice it until, at a certain point in the marriage (after difficulties had already arisen), she turned to Orthodoxy, with a passion. Allegations of domestic violence against the husband by the wife started off with a protective order for the wife and then got overturned on appeal; dad got custody and then began to cut off mom’s visitation; dad got very close to a woman who was from Brazil; mom started to get resistance from the people at the child’s school when she’d pick up her daughter for visits; this and that; the mom got pregnant by another man, who wanted to have full custody of his child and take that baby to Israel where his family, some of whom were allegedly holocaust survivors, lived, and more blah blah blah blah blah.

    All of a sudden the mother got charged with 28 counts of felony child sexual abuse and locked up without bail. The evidence was: (a) her own daughter denied any abuse by her mother and said she only wanted to see her mother more; and (b) a flakey neighbor’s kid then alleged that she WITNESSED the mother insert “the bill of a dead duck” into her daughter’s vagina — correcting herself to make it clear that the alleged foreign object used to rape the child was a rubber duckie, and then the identified the event in time by claiming that it had happened in the summer on a school day that started with a W a year prior to the interview.

    The actual factual information available from the interviews of the two little girls was more confusing than the sex/sleep/condom/party stories of the various Swedish women who had been horizontal with Assange. The mom CLEARLY was being prosecuted only and solely because the dad had connections with the prosecutor’s office and they were trying to make sure the mom would not be seeing her daughter any more. (They also managed to try to give the baby to his biological father but, en route to the state arranging that, they messed up and a baby-sitter in a foster-home accidentally killed the infant at the age of two months.)

    When the criminal laws of two states (Maryland and New York, on an extradition hearing) had paid for a total of 19 months in jail awaiting trial while the mom had to be fed expensive kosher food at the taxpayer’s expense, it was determined that New York refused to extradite the mom to Harford County for prosecution and then, it became obvious that Harford County had lost control of the case.

    The dad hastily relocated to Brazil to keep his daughter from having her custody and visitation issues before a Maryland court any more. Over a quarter of a million dollars was spent on this case by people who not only had no stake in any of it (none of it was criminal and it only was made to appear criminal to help the dad manage the civil case for custody of his daughter) but who never knew about it and will never be able to find out exactly what their elected and appointed government officials did to waste their tax dollars on this private campaign. And Harford County is not a rich county.

    Charges were eventually dropped and a complaint against the prosecutor was corrupted away because the Attorney Disciplinary Board of Maryland is itself a Racket.

    Now look at what has happened with the Assange case. Women who never alleged rape at the time that sex occurred got together later, got lawyered up, and ran in to the authorities making claims that make ALL WOMEN WHO ACTUALLY ARE RAPED lose credibility in the eyes of the whole world. Just as in the Harford County case, actual deliberate false allegations of sexual abuse of children were used in a custody battle for all the wrong reasons by all the wrong people, making it even harder for children who actually ARE SEXUALLY ABUSED to get protection in the context of contentious divorces.

    So ridiculous claims that shouldn’t even be committed to paper except for the purpose of saying, “Person came to the police to make complaint but it was unfounded and no action was taken” merited huge amounts of investigatory, prosecutorial, and other expenditures while real rapes, real incest, real crimes go not only unpunished but actually ignored. And all the while we are sold this stupid story about “not enough funding” for police and prosecutors to do their jobs.

    It is — all of this — is corrupt, transparently corrupt, dishonest, immoral, disgusting, and should result in heads rolling.

    It won’t, of course.

    I sure hope that a fund gets set up so that people can send financial contributions to Ecuador to help provide support for Assange. Hey Men’s rights groups, who protect the falsely accused, where are you?

  2. AP,

    If I recall the OAS…… The Organization of American States has come out in full support of Assange…… And Obama has stated that this does not involve them….. If I further recall….. The Latin economy is the new emergent market….and we should pay heed to their words….. Brazil and Columbia are doing major infrastructure including building rails……

  3. Shano,

    Of course he’s swedish…… Rove that is….. And as far as a fair trial….. When the verdict is reached before a trial…. Sure he’ll get a fair trial…..perspective…

  4. Apparently Bildt and Rove have been good friends since the 70’s.
    Rove advises Bildt’s party on how to spin stuff.
    Relations betwen Sweden and the US are warm and friendly, with the US having the penis.

    If you come across stories of a WikiLeaks smear campaign against Sweden/Rove, it’s nonsense. Something about some unknown WikiLeaks ‘spokesperson’ saying that WikiLeaks had proof that Bildt was a CIA stooge recruited by Rove. It seems to have been invented by the Expressen newspaper – which is a complete rag. Think extreme Fox.

  5. shano, The article says he has a relationship with Sweden because of his involvement in getting the Swedish government to aid in rendition for torture during the Bush administration. This is telling. Perhaps it is the Bush/Cheney/CIA cabal that is pulling the strings here. The Bush/Cheney faction still has people in DoJ who have been retained by the Obama administration.

  6. Some people talk as if Assange could get a fair trial in the US.


  7. Darren Smith-

    You said, “….the U.S. gov’t. has a legitimate right to be able to go after people who to the detriment of the public release secret information.”


    But the U.S. government has no right at all to promiscuously classify enormous quanties of information for the purpose of deceiving the American people, covering up violations of the law, or hiding blundering, stupidity, and wrongdoing, The government also has no right to pass laws and then classify provisions of the law to hide them from the American people. Nor does the American government have any right to classify information pertaining to war crimes committed by the government or any agent of the government. Nor does the U.S. government have any right to classify attempts by the U.S. government to intimidate persons or organizations, whether domestic or foreign, to prevent them from investigating such war crimes.

    In other words, all of us should be asking the simple question: Who is the criminal here? I don’t think it’s Julian Assange and I don’t think it’s Bradley Manning. Both of them have performed a great service to the people of the United States and people everywhere who value the truth and detest government treachery.

  8. Just checked.

    My test stated with “Moderation is a ” and ended with that word. 🙂
    So now you know.
    Don’t use the ‘b’ word.

    Add that to the “No more than two hyperlinks” rule.

  9. Part 3

    So eventually, the US ask for Assange and the Swedes hand him over.
    It’s OK. The Swedes have ‘previous’. They have been happy in the past to turn people over for torture via extraordinary rendition. They are a US poodle b**ch when it comes to foreign policy.

    There would be a problem if a death penalty were on the cards, but the US is happy to confirm that they will just lock him up for life in a SuperMax while and after they find him guilty. No need for Sweden to the UK to worry about death penalties.

    The process of finding him guilty will take longer than the process of finding Bradley Manning guilty – however long that turns out to take.
    Supermax is great. Solitary in a precast concrete box – apart from one hour of solitary exercise per day in a different concrete box. He’ll have room service though. They pop a food tray in through a flap in the door. Enjoy!
    For life.
    Europeans would consider such conditions to be cruel and inhumane on their own patch, but somehow it’s OK to send people into such conditions. It’s only the death penalty that causes hand-wringing. That’s an emotive concept. Much like ( word describing non-consensual sex ).

    It’s all good.
    The US can have Assange restricted by proxy for quite a while yet without having to take direct heat themselves.

    This situation also postpones they day when they have to consider the possibility of the secrets of the Assange insurance files getting pasted all over the Interwebz.
    They have a whole supercomputer cluster covering half a desert grinding away in the meantime. They probably have a team of psychologists seeding one strand of password cracking with potential start phrases. Money no object.
    They are going to be really bummed if they find that the information encrypted is all cooking recipes and advice on pet care.
    They are no doubt trying to work out what form of “dead man’s hand” would trigger the release.
    In the meantime, it’s all about being as vindictive as possible.

  10. Part 2 of unknown
    (or perhaps part infinity)

    This is great.
    For the very first time, he’s done something simple. He’s broken his bail conditions.
    Fantastic smear potential. He’s now painted as a (person who had sex by force) trying to avoid answering for his dastardly crimes.
    Stage some cop cars outside the embassy. Drama.
    This could spin out indefinitely in the UK.

    Eventually, he can be carted off to Sweden.
    Under their system, he will be held incommunicado. His lawyer can talk to him. That’s all. No Net for you Julian.
    He can be held for a very long time like that. No indecent haste. These things take time to prepare.

    The great part is the US are in no way involved. It’s all purely a process for the Swedish legal system.
    The US does not have to detail any charges or any basic for extradition/prosecution. There are no charges. Why on earth should the US have to detail any legal basis for such?
    But… the good ol’ boys back home know that retribution is still to be had. And anyone thinking of blowing whistles is being well warned.

    They could even have the Swedes find him guilty eventually and bang him up for some years.
    That might be indicated. After all, the current phase is all about vindicating the right and sensibilities of the two women involved.
    They have been kept waiting for years while their government spins it out by refusing to inter…. no wait! I misspoke…..They have been kept waiting for years while Assange tries to avoid facing his accusers.
    However, that’s maybe not the best, as the Swedes might treat him nice in prison after they find him guilty.
    Did you know that the trial would be behind closed doors with a political appointee running the show?

  11. *sigh* Part II gets into moderation, even after the ‘R’ word gets modified.
    Take it in little chunks to see what the issue is.

  12. For the US administration, the current sort of situation is
    – good PR for home consumption
    – a warning to whistle-blowers
    – a cheap way of harassing Assange and WikiLeaks
    – distanced from US responsibilty

    I don’t buy that the situation was some sort of engineered honey-trap.
    If you read the summary in the link that I posted above, you might agree that it is far more likely to be pure opportunism.

    The concern of the women was chiefly about the possibility of STD after actual or suspected unprotected sex. Assange is apparently a difficult character. He has his little ways. Had he been more responsive to the STD concern, he wouldn’t have ended up in this mess I think.

    Lurking under that Supreme Court summary is a story of a politically-connected friend of one of them. The first prosecutor found no cause. The second prosecutor who woke it up again shares the political connections of the friend.
    This almost certainly started as local politics, and got international later.

    Assange was given permission to leave Sweden.
    This might indicate that
    a) This was still local politics. The prosecutor had a big-name case to put against her name. Assange there or not didn’t matter. It’s all good publicity. Not having him there could actually be better as it would spin thing out and generate more event.
    b) It had gone major political. Assange and WikiLeaks with him could be damaged by making him into a fugitive. In Sweden, he wouldn’t be much of a fugitive.

    Either way, Assange had offered to attend for interview before leaving.
    This was refused on the basis that the investigator was ill.
    The illness was genuine or was created to ensure Assange left and could be summoned back.

    Assange in the UK offers an interview in the UK. Electronic or physical.
    It appears that interviews with the women were conducted by telephone. Swedish law allows for people to be interviewed even abroad.

    The upshot was the European Arrest Warrant – which was a post 9/11 panic measure aimed at terrorists but naturally came to be used for all sorts of mundane non-terrorist matters – as these things do.

    Assange gets imprisoned for a while and thereafter is under a form of house arrest. He has to wear an electronic tag and sign in at the local police station daily.
    For some reason, CCTV cameras get mounted in the vicinity. Telephone lines and cellphone towers in the vicinity are probably very well maintained. The house is most probably an electronic goldfish bowl.

    Lots of lovely court cases. Shut off donation channels. Bleed the b*****d dry.

    It’s cool. Nearly two years of Assange being restricted in movement and his contacts totally under a microscope

    After all available legal appeal forums are exhausted, it’s almost time for a trip to Sweden for Assange.
    He checks into the Ecuador Embassy.

    ……… continued (if this or the continuation gets past moderation)

  13. I pressed ‘Post Comment’ yesterday at the end of a sort-of-brain-dump-length post.
    It went into moderation. Buh-bhy.
    It had no links. If there were naughty words in there, it might have been the Scunthorpe effect rather than me being potty-fingered.
    It might have been a warning from the Universe, but I get nagged by the Universe a lot, so ‘whatever’, I’ll try posting it in two sections.

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