HIGH ACTION PRIORITY – CALL TO DUTY!
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SUPPORT NEEDED FOR JULIAN ASSANGE!
Via Occupy Central & Art Maker
The UK is preparing to break international law and storm the Ecuadorian Embassy in order stop WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s bid for political asylum. British authorities have “warned” Ecuador that they could raid its embassy and arrest Julian Assange if he is not handed over. The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister responded by saying such a move would be a “flagrant violation” of international law.
Live feed from the Embassy: http://bambuser.com/v/2905636
A group of Assange supporters has gathered in front of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in order to prevent British authorities from raiding it. The police presence around the embassy has significantly grown since Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced Ecuador had received a “direct” threat from British authorities that they are prepared to storm the embassy and arrest Assange if he is not delivered to their custody.
UK threatens to ‘assault’ Ecuadorian Embassy to arrest Assange — RT
Julian Assange can be arrested in embassy, UK warns Ecuador
Ahead of decision on WikiLeaks founder’s asylum claim, Quito accuses Britain of threat to trample international law
- The Guardian, Thursday 16 August 2012
The diplomatic and political minefield that is the fate of Julian Assange is expected to come a step closer to being traversed when Ecuador‘s president, Rafael Correa, gives his decision on whether his country will grant the WikiLeaks‘ founder asylum around lunchtime on Thursday.
The decision – if it comes – will mark the end of a turbulent process that on Wednesday night saw Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, raging against perceived threats from Britain to “storm” the embassy and warning that such a “dangerous precedent” would be met with “appropriate responses in accordance with international law”.
The dramatic development came two months after Assange suddenly walked into the embassy in a bid to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual assault.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Patiño released details of a letter he said was delivered through a British embassy official in Quito, the capital of the South American country.
The letter said: “You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the UK, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the embassy.”
It added: “We need to reiterate that we consider the continued use of the diplomatic premises in this way incompatible with the Vienna convention and unsustainable and we have made clear the serious implications that this has for our diplomatic relations.”
On Wednesday night appeals were tweeted for Assange supporters to occupy the embassy to prevent British police from arresting him, and while there was a police presence outside the embassy, Scotland Yard insisted that officers were simply there to “police the embassy like any other embassy”.
Patiño said he was “deeply shocked” by the diplomatic letter. Speaking to reporters later, he said: “The government of Ecuador is considering a request for asylum and has carried out diplomatic talks with the governments of the United Kingdom and Sweden. However, today we received from the United Kingdom a written threat that they could attack our embassy in London if Ecuador does not give up Julian Assange.
“Ecuador, as a state that respects rights and justice and is a democratic and peaceful nation state, rejects in the strongest possible terms the explicit threat of the British official communication.
“This is unbecoming of a democratic, civilised and law-abiding state. If this conduct persists, Ecuador will take appropriate responses in accordance with international law.
“If the measures announced in the British official communication materialise they will be interpreted by Ecuador as a hostile and intolerable act and also as an attack on our sovereignty, which would require us to respond with greater diplomatic force.
“Such actions would be a blatant disregard of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations and of the rules of international law of the past four centuries.
“It would be a dangerous precedent because it would open the door to the violation of embassies as a declared sovereign space.” Under international law, diplomatic posts are considered the territory of the foreign nation.
The Foreign Office was quick to downplay the drama. A spokesman said Britain had merely sought to “clarify its position”, according to international law.
“Throughout this process we have drawn the Ecuadoreans’ attention to relevant provisions of our law – for example, the extensive human rights safeguards in our extradition procedures, or the legal status of diplomatic premises in the UK,” a spokesman said.
“We are still committed to reaching a mutually acceptable solution.”
Ecuador revealed that it would announce its decision regarding Assange’s asylum request on Thursday at 1pm.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We have consistently made our position clear in our discussions with the government of Ecuador. The UK has a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offences and we remain determined to fulfil this obligation.
“We have an obligation to extradite Mr Assange and it is only right that we give Ecuador the full picture.
Correa has said Assange could face the death penalty in the US, and for that reason he considers the asylum request a question of political persecution.
Analysts in Ecuador expressed doubts that Britain would raid the embassy.
Professor Julio Echeverria of Quito’s Flasco University said Britain “has a long-established tradition in Europe of respecting diplomatic missions”, which under international law are considered sovereign territory.
A former Ecuadorean ambassador to London, Mauricio Gandara, told the Associated Press: “I refuse to believe in this threat because if asylum is granted the British government will not grant safe passage and Mr Assange could be in the embassy for a long time.”
Assange denies the allegations against him, but fears he will be sent to the United States if he goes to Sweden. An offer to the Swedish authorities by Ecuador for investigators to interview Assange inside the London embassy was rejected.
A former computer hacker, Assange enraged Washington in 2010 when WikiLeaks published secret US diplomatic cables, has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy since 19 June.
If Ecuador does give Assange asylum, it is difficult to see how the WikiLeaks boss could physically leave the closely watched embassy and head to an airport without being arrested by British police.