Thursday, August 16, 2012

Britain threatens Ecuador on Assange asylum

                              Police outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where Wikileaks 
                              founder, Julian Assange, arrived two months ago seeking political asylum.


In an extraordinary development today the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino,
released details of a letter he had received from the British Foreign Office in London and 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."

Last night, appeals were widely tweeted for Assange supporters to occupy the embassy to prevent British police from arresting Assange, 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".

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 alleged trumped
up charges of sexual assault as a cover to force him to return to Sweden and be liable 
to be extradited to the USA with the connivance of the right-wing, pro-NATO government
in Sweden.

Senor 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.

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.

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. 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.

The Ecuadorian Government will announce it's decision on political asylum for Mr Assange later today.

This latest development shows that the arrogance and hypocrisy of the aggressive NATO Alliance knows no bounds and considers, apparently, that International Law applies only to others and not to them. Threatening a sovereign country with invasion of it's Embassy is a scandalous affront to peaceful relations between nations and shows the colonial mentality
still survives in the British Foreign Office. Nevertheless, such an action would have severe consequences for British interests in Latin America as the majority of the countries on the Continent would show immediate solidarity with Ecuador. Already embroiled in a continuing conflict with Argentina over the disputed Malvinas Islands in the South Atlantic, such an aggressive move by Britain could have serious consequences for it's colonial outpost there.

Áth Cliath/Dublin
Lunasa/August 16 2012

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