British FM Ignored Lawyers’ Warnings Not to Threaten Ecuador’s Embassy

Lawyers Warn of 'Retaliatory Attacks' Against British Embassies Abroad

by Jason Ditz, August 19, 2012

Most agree that British Foreign Minister William Hague’s threat to invade the Ecuadorean Embassy in an effort to capture Julian Assange was imprudent, but apparently he got legal advice before he issued the statement – and ignored it.

The reports coming out today say that lawyers expressed “grave reservations” about the threat of hostile action against a London embassy, fearing it could provoke retaliatory attacks against British embassies abroad.

Interestingly enough this would’ve been the lesson of history leading up to the law allowing the raid in the first place, as the 1984 incident in which a London policewoman was killed by a gunman inside the Libyan embassy lead to an open-ended siege of the embassy, and a retaliatory siege against the British embassy in Tripoli.

Though British law allows raids on embassies, the Vienna Convention, which Britain is a party to, does not. The law was seen primarily as a foil against public security threats coming out of embassies, and not as a convenient way to get around people seeking asylum within them, and it is now considered unlikely that Britain is actually contemplating such a raid.

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