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British raid threat 'hostile and extreme': WikiLeaks

AFP/The Local · 16 Aug 2012, 07:46

Published: 16 Aug 2012 07:46 GMT+02:00

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"WikiLeaks condemns in the strongest possible terms the UK's resort to intimidation," it said in a statement.

"A threat of this nature is a hostile and extreme act, which is not proportionate to the circumstances, and an unprecedented assault on the rights of asylum-seekers worldwide."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Australian national, has been in the embassy since June in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning over sex assault claims.

The Australian fears Stockholm will turn him over to the United States where he could face espionage and conspiracy charges over revelations by his website.

Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino earlier said Britain had threatened to "storm our embassy if Ecuador does not hand over Julian Assange".

WikiLeaks said the embassy was currently surrounded by police "in a menacing show of force".

"Any transgression against the sanctity of the embassy is a unilateral and shameful act, and a violation of the Vienna Convention, which protects embassies worldwide," it said.

"This threat is designed to preempt Ecuador's imminent decision on whether it will grant Julian Assange political asylum, and to bully Ecuador into a decision that is agreeable to the United Kingdom and its allies.

"We remind the public that these extraordinary actions are being taken to detain a man who has not been charged with any crime in any country," it added.

A British Foreign Office spokesman has said police were ready to arrest Assange for breaching the terms of his bail granted in 2010.

"The UK has a legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offenses and we remain determined to

fulfill this obligation," the spokesman said in London.

WikiLeaks noted that the tougher stance by London coincided with British Foreign Secretary William Hague standing in for Prime Minister David Cameron while he was on vacation.

It claimed Hague's department, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, had overseen the negotiations to date with Ecuador.

Story continues below…

"If Mr Hague has, as would be expected, approved this decision, WikiLeaks calls for his immediate resignation," it said.

Assange's mother earlier Thursday claimed the United States was behind the British threat.

"What the US wants, the US gets from its allies, regardless of if it's legal or if it's ethical or in breach of human or legal rights," she told reporters in Australia.

Patino said Ecuador "has made a decision" on whether to grant Assange

asylum and would announce it at 2pm CET Thursday.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:47 August 16, 2012 by rob582
@Ford, this is legal posturing, the words used were '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.

"We sincerely hope that we do not reach that point, but if you are not capable of resolving this matter of Mr Assange's presence in your premises, this is an open option for us."'

They have now been fairly warned that they are harboring a suspected criminal (doesn't matter how weak/strong the charges are) and that if they are not willing to step up and offer him immunity the UK are well within their legal rights to go in and get him.
08:58 August 16, 2012 by skogsbo
Trow, off on another tangent as usual?
09:00 August 16, 2012 by byke
The action taken is disproportionate and clearly political based given the nature of this issue.

Lets not forget people, he hasn't even been charged.

"An offer by Ecuador to allow Swedish investigators to interview Mr Assange inside the embassy was rejected."

Now tell me again, how is this issue proportionate?
09:28 August 16, 2012 by Rick Methven
If the UK did invoke this obscure law, it would turn the whole status of every embassy in every country in the world. For hundreds of years the status of embassies as sovereign ground of the country owning the embassy has been observed even between countries that are at loggerheads with each other. Now we have Hague claiming that Britain has a law that allows it to take away the diplomatic status of an Embassy if it so chooses. If Britain was at open declared war with that country, that is a situation that could be understood but with a country that it has a normal relationship with is completely beyond acceptability.

I wonder what would happen if they said that to the Russians, Chinese or the Americans.

Now this British "law" has been made known to the world, You can expect the Russians, Chinese and Americans to find that they have similar laws that they plan to use to invade the British Embassy
09:28 August 16, 2012 by engagebrain
Many years ago a British policewoman was killed by a shot fired from the Libyan embassy - the embasy was not raided.

To raid the Ecuadorian embassy for someone jumping bail is therefore unlikely. In addition there are thousands of people who refuse to turn up in court, little is usually done about it.

Why Swedish presecutor cannot intervew Assange on the phone or in person, by simply expedient of flying to London for the day, reamins a mystery - but their refusal to use modern technology has cost Sweden, the UK and Assange a shed load of money, or is that the intention.
09:44 August 16, 2012 by RobinHood
What on earth made the Brits write such a stupid thing in an open letter?

Even the veiled threat of breaching sacrosanct ambassadorial integrity will be expoited by rogue states like Iran as an excuse to raid foreign embassies whenever they feel like it. It's unprecedented stupidity, and Britain is going to have to do some serious and embarrassing diplomatic back-peddling; not only with Ecuador.

Everyone who touches this case, Assange, the alleged victims, the prosecutors, the defence, the politicians, and now the diplomats, comes out looking like absolute fools. A huge number of experienced and intelligent people have made a complete dog's breakfast of this, time and time again; over what is at worst a case of minor sexual assault. This case was only a few minutes old when a Swedish prosecutor first broke the rules and tipped off the press. Since then its been a comedy of incompetence, eccentric decisions and humiliation. Sweden's international reputation as a country where the rule of law prevails has been savaged by the world's press. Even the awful Glenn Back made a decent job of it (see You Tube). Only the British judiciary and the Ecuadorians have, so far, retained their dignity and professional reputations.

The rest really need to explain to us what on earth drove them all to act stupidly?
09:53 August 16, 2012 by skogsbo
Robin, you'll find the Iranians have already 'allowed' or perhaps funded or even played a role in student storming the British Embassy in Iran last November.

There are several legal reasons why phone interviews are not carried out, this would also set a legal precident of this kind of procedure. Assange should follow 'exactly' the same legal procedure and police investigation methods that 99.9999% of the population also have to follow. If serving and ex prime ministers can be called forward by a Judge to speak as part of an enquiry then it seems far an alleged rapist should also attend his own interview.

Your right that's a farce and the only current gain is for the lawyers and their fees. Some are probably planning their early retirement off the back of this.
10:09 August 16, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Would be EXTREMELY odd and inconsistent if the Brits kick in the door of the Ecuadorian Embassy to grab Assange, when one remembers that the British allowed the Lybian murderer of a British police officer (she was shot while providing security outside the Lybian embassy in the mid 1980's) to waltz to Heathrow airport and fly to Tripoli with full diplomatic immunity.
10:18 August 16, 2012 by Buckshot
Julian Assange makes a good impression of a spineless coward.
10:23 August 16, 2012 by Kevin Harris
The the North Koreans, the Belarussians, the Iranians, the Stans, the Cubans and every other dodgy tinpot dictatorship is right now Googling the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, and instructing their slimy lawyers to get a similar version on their own statute books, chop chop.

Good job Britain, the world will soon ring to the sound of embassy doors being kicked in by hobnailed policemans' boots.

Methinks this little man has become a very important person to someone out there if Britain is prepared to cast aside centuries of diplomatic protocol just to get him back.
10:23 August 16, 2012 by J Jack
Putting on a good face for the Olympic games and then back to reality.
11:00 August 16, 2012 by Flutterbye
And the Uk is doing everyone else's dirty work again!!! He's Australian, it's Sweden and North America that wants him for alleged offences committed else where, He's in a Ecuadorian embassy and the British, who this man has done nothing to, have to do all the work get all the flack and world wide bad press!!! Typical.
11:28 August 16, 2012 by skogsbo
flutterbye, exactly. If only the Swedish police had held him in custody pending further investigation, or withdrawn his passport, this whole farce would never have started.

Hopefully, now that the UK and EU lawyers wallets are full, the British police can drag this teenage acting buffoon out by his ears.

He is like some teenager who thinks he can hide behind his computer or mobile phone, or a drunk youth who think just because so girl didn't say no, she really 'allegedly' meant yes. He needs some time in a cell to mature, although the Embassy is probably no holiday camp!

There is zero chance of him going to Ecuador, the government there is struggling for support and the other ministers and the public want to progress their society, not cut it from the rest of the world by harbour this nut job.
11:29 August 16, 2012 by smilingjack
the world is turning into a very nasty place. governments willing to take people off the streets denying them access to lawyers or contact with family members. the way things are going the entire world with be a police state. in australia we have just learnt that video surveillance used extensively by the government ( multi millions in contracts ) owned by an American firm were actually using cia facial recognition software to illegally monitor citizens. serco another yank company controls the majority of the worlds prisons, immigration processing and detention, airport traffic control. they control a lot of outsourced military stuff and are gaining more public transport / ticketing systems by the day.

my poor children and grand children. brave new world and 1984 are here right now.
11:37 August 16, 2012 by nolikegohome
if the brits raid the embassy it will mean the chinese and north koreans can raid american and british embassies in their respective countries. the future of all political asylum seekers in embassies will have to be revised.
13:01 August 16, 2012 by engagebrain
re skogsbo

you suggest that

interviewing Assange on the telephone or in the UK would set a precedent

yes but a good and sensible precedent that would have saved a massive amount of time and money. It is not just the SSF who care little for the public purse.
13:14 August 16, 2012 by philster61
Buckshot. I'm sure if you were facing a death penalty just because you exercised your democratic freedoms I'm 100% sure you would also hide.....
13:31 August 16, 2012 by Svensksmith
Let him go to Ecuador. Seems like a good place for him.
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