UK & World News
'No Safe Passage Out Of UK For Assange'
Foreign Secretary William Hague has insisted that the Government would not allow Julian Assange safe passage out of the UK as the WikiLeaks founder promised to make his first public appearance for five months at the weekend.
Britain and Ecuador are locked in a diplomatic stand-off over the WikiLeaks founder after he was granted political asylum by the South American country.
Mr Hague has responded by saying the UK Government is "determined" to see Mr Assange extradited and that political asylum should not be used to escape the normal court process.
The Foreign Secretary told a news conference: "We will not allow Mr Assange safe passage out of the UK, nor is there any legal basis for us to do so.
"The UK does not accept the principle of diplomatic asylum."
The situation could go on for a considerable time and there is no threat to storm the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Mr Assange is taking refuge, Mr Hague added.
Shortly after the Government statement, WikiLeaks announced on Twitter that Mr Assange will give a live statement in front of the Ecuadorian embassy on Sunday at 2pm.
A second tweet said: "Sunday the 19th is two months exactly since Assange entered the embassy. It will be his first public apperance (sic) since March."
Earlier in the day the WikiLeaks founder watched on television from inside the embassy in London's Knightsbridge, as foreign minister Ricardo Patino made the announcement in Quito.
Mr Assange, who has been living in the building for 56 days in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, welcomed the decision but warned the battle to protect his organisation would go on.
"I am grateful to the Ecuadorian people, President Rafael Correa and his government. It was not Britain or my home country, Australia, that stood up to protect me from persecution, but a courageous, independent Latin American nation," he said.
"While today is a historic victory, our struggles have just begun. The unprecedented US investigation against WikiLeaks must be stopped."
Mr Patino said Ecuador believed the Australian faces a real threat of political persecution, including the prospect of extradition to the US where he said he would not get a fair trial.
"It is not impossible that he would be treated in a cruel manner, condemned to life in prison, or even the death penalty," he said, adding: "Ecuador is convinced that his procedural rights have been violated."
Sweden called the decision "unacceptable", accused Ecuador of trying to block its judicial process and summoned its ambassador to a meeting.
The Australian, 41, sought sanctuary in the embassy in June after losing his latest legal bid to avoid deportation to the Scandinavian country, where he is wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations.
His lawyers say he fears he could be extradited to the US from there and then tried over WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of documents and logs that seriously embarrassed America.
Ecuador had been in negotiations with the UK, Sweden and the US, but these soured on Wednesday after its government received a letter from British officials.
The letter warned there was a legal basis to arrest Mr Assange at the embassy, if it continued to shield him, and spoke of "serious implications" for diplomatic relations.
Under international law, diplomatic posts are considered the territory of the foreign nation but the Foreign Office is allowed to revoke this status if it is being abused.
It would take seven days to implement the legal process allowing for an arrest inside the building because the Government would have to give notice.
A furious Mr Patino made clear on Wednesday that his country regarded this as an "explicit threat" by Britain which would be a flagrant breach of international law if carried out.
WikiLeaks added: "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."
But a British Government source told Sky News: "It's not a threat, it's British law."
Supporters of the WikiLeaks founder descended on the embassy on Thursday and clashed with the scores of police on duty outside. Three protesters were arrested.
Demonstrators, who had been chanting "Julian Assange - Freedom Fighter" and "Hands Off Ecuador", cheered as news of the asylum decision filtered through.
Mr Assange's mother Christine has suggested the US is behind Britain's trenchant approach and called on Australia's attorney general to protest.
"What the US wants, the US gets from its allies, regardless of if it's legal or it it's ethical or in breach of human or legal rights. We're all lackeys," she told reporters in Australia.
But the US insisted it was not involved in the diplomatic row, denying charges it was pressuring Britain to seize him.
what do you think?
USA says, "go fetch boy" and UK government puppydog obays it's master's voice.
Gengis. He is being extradited to Sweden not the US
From what I read, the Sweden move is a staging post to Gitmo Bay and beyond any form of justice system.
Which idiot Civil Servant or Minister threatened to enter the Equador Embassy to arrest Assange? Mind you, thinking about it, this has the stamp of Teflon Theresa - she who cannot think through any impulsive decisions that comes into her head. This puts every British Embassy throughout the world at risk of retaliation!
Spot On Allan
Just close the embassy and send the diplomats home. Simples
I think there is something very fishy here. He must know some very sensitive information. I think a lot of goverments are trying to dicreadit him. I think he is innocent. The British goverment did not go this far with a known terrorist
Why are we persuing this. It's because he's embarrassed the top people again. If the man was a child molesting murderer, they wouldn't give a monkeys after a few weeks. Spill the beans on the money men, and you will be hunted like a N a z i.
aa aa. Sadly I think there is a lot of truth in what you say. His biggest crime is he has embarrassed the establishment
That is this coalition governments MO if they do not get their own way they throw their toys out of the pram. He has every right to claim asylum in a foreign embassy and in fact the UK have strengthened his case by the actions they have taken. If I were them I would grant it and get him out on the next flight. He should have rights but again this government wants to deny him his rights. He is now an asylum seaker and this government should acknowledge it and abide by its protocol
"It would be a dangerous precedent because it would open the door to the violation of embassies as a declared sovereign space." Indeed, it would.
Brian. Indeed it would. Yet we are the first to complain if British Embassies are subjected to attacks around the world
The brights sparks in the the Government and the Foreign Office will leave British diplomats wide open to the same treatment, another knee jerk reaction from the gobsmiths.
If we storm the Ecuadorian Embassy we will be breaking international law as well as the Geneva Convention. Still, that didnt stop us launching an illegal invasion of Iraq ? Free Julian Assange !
Our foreign office is just showing itself up as desperate bullies, trying to apply totally inappropriate legislation which was passed for cases of terrorism scenarios.
We are prepared to assault an embassy in flagrant breech of international law in order to arrest this man. Yet dozens of foreign undesirables are allowed to remain in the UK because the HR act says they have a right to family life and the govt wrings its hands and says they are powerless. Useless is nearer the mark. I am puzzled however by the support for him in that he faces sexual assault charges which would usually bring out the sisterhood in force to call for his castration
The sexual assault charges are generally regarded as trumped-up.
I see. But surely the way to test this is give him his day in court
Dave. As Ali says the sexual assault charges may well be just an excuse for extraditing him to Sweden but this would only be as a means to then further extraditing him to the US.
Maybe but then that would be a question for the Swedish authorities to decide not us
Dave, I can explain why he is supported and that is Governments lie to us without any conscience or sanction. Assange has exposed some of the true extent with evidence. I know this is a moral and legal toughie on many levels and there are valid arguments on both sides. One being that as we governed under a system of of democracy, how can we decide on the realtive merits of a government without knowing what is being done in our name.
What I do not understand is why Equador Embasy are giving him shelter in the first place. What have they to gain from it?
Equador probably sees Julian Assange as a top bargaining chip. He may not realise this yet, but he is merely a pawn in several governments' game of chess.
Cant believe they are even considering this!!!! what the whys and wherefores of Assange's case, the British have no right to just go in and take him, who is leaning on them? it has to be someone in the Swedish or US Govt. and the Ecuadorian Embassy is protected under International Law, if we go in we are breaking International Law and treading all over Democracy in the process, just to please some bullies in foreign Govts. if the US had kept their noses clean there would have been nothing to leak! and the Swedish legal system defines Rape differently to us, Assange said it was consentual and the 2 women agreed but said he did not use protection, this is classed as Rape in Sweden and this is what he is accused of! even is convicted he would only get 2 years in Prison and then any Country would be free to extradite him for questioning on, oh I don't know, leaking sensitive documents maybe....
Jacqui. Sounds a bit concocted doesn't it
" Equador has accused the UK of threatening " ? Why would they threaten ? why not just do it ? because it is a load of bull !! He must come out of the embassy at some time. As someone else has written, " why would Equador want him ? "
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Before we get all supportive of Equador we should think that Assange is not a national of Equador and is the defendant in a court case. His actions had far reaching effects beyond the media hype. I am no lover of US attempts to use extraterritorial authority but Assange is spineless by having done something he knew to be wrong and then running away. Now look at an extension Equador is breeching its privileges by harboring an accused person what if that man was a drug smuggler rapist or murderer. So next time I want to commit murder no problem i go seek political asylum with Equador. You can bet if the shoe was on the other foot they would squeal. Diplomatic privilege has certain obligations.
I wonder if the Foreign office would have threatened "to storm the building" if Mr Assange had taken refuge in say the Russian or Chinese embassies? Answers below please.
They wouldnt dare threaten the Russian/Chinese/USA embassy, or for that matter Israeli or Suadi embassy for different reasons. . . Good point
Of course they wouldn't. Ecuador is a small country which does not buy boatloads of arms from the UK nor toady to its whims or have the realistic wherewithall to resist. Typical bullyboy tactics carrying out the dictates of our US masters!
His real "crime" is releasing cockpit footage of US airmen murdering Iraqi civilians for "fun", the media seem to have forgotten the leaked information and would prefer to shoot the messenger instead.
STORM THE BUILDING??? A letter would be sent giving 7 days notice of revoking the buildings diplomatic status. 7 days later they would all leave and Mr assange would be arrested & deported to Sweeden. 1 day later Equador would do the same to our Embassy in Quito and then both governments would growl at each other for, let's say a year or so, then kiss and make up. By then, Mr Assange??? can't remember him!
The good old US of A is putting the pressure on and it's anyone's bet that the lot we've got in charge will go to the utmost to please their "masters"...(51st state and all that)..."nuf" said...