Trapped in Embassy, Assange in Standoff With UK Police

Britain warned the diplomatic standoff over the WikiLeaks founder could go on for years

by John Glaser, August 17, 2012

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London for the foreseeable future, as British authorities have vowed to arrest him upon exiting the building despite his successful bid for asylum.

Ecuador granted diplomatic asylum to Assange on Thursday, citing genuine concerns that his human rights might be violated and that the sex offense accusations against him may be used as an opportunity for the US to prosecute him for publishing classified documents.

But British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain would not legally recognize diplomatic asylum and would not grant Assange safe passage to Ecuador because “there is no legal basis for us to do so.”

“No one, least of all the government of Ecuador, should be in any doubt that we are determined to carry out our legal obligation to see Mr Assange extradited to Sweden,” Hague said on Thursday.

British authorities have even threatened to revoke the embassy’s diplomatic status in order to give them legal cover to forcibly enter the embassy and arrest Assange.

Russia on Friday warned Britain against violating customary diplomatic principles.

“What is happening gives grounds to contemplate the observance of the spirit and the letter of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and in particular the Article 22 spelling out the inviolability of diplomatic premises,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

British and Swedish officials, as well as the US State Department, have denied any plans to extradite Assange to the US once he’s in Sweden.

But according to leaked emails from the defense consulting group Stratfor, “a sealed indictment has been issued by a secret grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, for Julian Assange. The email is dated 26 January 2011. This means that there has likely been a sealed extradition order for over a year, which will be activated (unsealed) against Assange in Sweden, Australia and the UK when the US Government gives the order.”

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