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UK Authorities Threaten To Storm Ecuadorian Embassy To Arrest Julian Assange 1065

Posted by samzenpus
from the long-arm-of-the-law dept.
paulmac84 writes "According to the BBC, the UK have issued a threat to storm the Ecuadorian Embassy to arrest Julian Assange. Under the terms of the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 the UK has the right to revoke the diplomatic immunity of any embassy on UK soil. Ecuador are due to announce their decision on Assange's asylum request on Thursday morning."
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UK Authorities Threaten To Storm Ecuadorian Embassy To Arrest Julian Assange

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:35PM (#41004167)

    Storming an embassy is not new. I guess you never heard about the storming of the American embassy in Tehran. [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:00PM (#41004437)
    As of 5:55 PM West Coast Daylight Savings time, they have just invaded the Ecuadorian Embassy.

    Assange is bound to end up in the US in a secure facility where he will be denied effective legal representation and be tortured psychologically, if not physically.

    The US is no longer the home of freedom. RIP.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:05PM (#41004495)
    We haven't seen anything like this since the Iranians invaded the American Embassy in Tehran.

    "The British government has told Ecuadorian authorities it believes it can enter its embassy in London and arrest Assange. But any incursion by the Brits at the embassy would be ‘‘without modern precedent’’ and could end up before the international courts, according to an Australian law expert. Professor Donald Rothwell, from Australlian National University College of Law, said the government's stance shows just how serious the UK is about extraditing the WikiLeaks founder to Sweden. "The Ecuadorian Embassy enjoys protection under Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations which precludes the United Kingdom authorities from entering the Embassy without consent. Assange has enjoyed the protection of the embassy since he sought asylum there on 19 June 2012. "If the United Kingdom revoked the Embassy’s diplomatic protection and entered the Embassy to arrest Assange, Ecuador could rightly view this as a significant violation of international law which may find its way before an international court.”
    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/uk-police-raid-assanges-embassy-refuge-20120816-249pe.html [smh.com.au]
  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:13PM (#41004591)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-19259623 [bbc.co.uk]

    They say they are not about to raid the embassy.

    Much like anything else involving Assange, it appears Assange's side is amping up the hype.

  • by The Rizz (1319) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:15PM (#41004613)

    Ecuador has no other choice but to cave in. They cannot afford to go to war with UK

    Are you sure you don't have that backwards? If the UK initiates an act of war against another foreign power, especially over something as controversial as this, they'll have a lot of foreign powers extremely pissed at them. They will be seen as the aggressor, and Ecuador as the underdog. This is going to cause massive problems both with foreign relations, and within their own country ("we went to war over what now!?").

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:17PM (#41004637)
  • Re:Sure (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:17PM (#41004645)

    "He owned a site which released documents that everyone had a RIGHT to see"

    Information wants to be FREEEEEEE!!! \o/

    "Just because a document is classified doesn't mean the public shouldn't be aware."

    dude, go look up the definition of "classified"

  • Re:Yeah (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rei (128717) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:29PM (#41004783) Homepage

    It's not even really rape; note that his so called crime only carries a crappy fine as punishment. Oh, and he isn't being charged either.

    Are you going for a new record in "how dense can I pack errors about the assange case"?

    1) The checkbox on the arrest warrant for "rape" was marked, and the UK courts found that the charges would be rape even under UK law (most notably, having sex with a person who's asleep, even ignoring that he did so without a condom which had been made clear was a precondition of sex with her - it's *always* illegal)
    2) The charges are with penalties of up to four years in prison [nytimes.com].
    3) He cannot be charged in absentia under Swedish law. There is a series of steps which must be taken in order to lead to formal charges, and not all of them have been taken yet. Hence the warrant to continue the process. The European Arrest Warrant makes it clear that he is to be returned with intent to charge. Which also means it makes no sense to send over Swedish interrogators to the UK - not like anyone should have to give famous people special treatment anyway just because they say to.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:32PM (#41004813) Journal

    I understand we were thanked by the citizens of Afghanistan in New York a few years back, in September, for a similar action.

    Saudi Arabia: fifteen hijackers
    United Arab Emirates: two hijackers
    Lebanon: one hijacker
    Egypt: one hijacker

  • Re:Yeah (Score:4, Informative)

    by meerling (1487879) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:51PM (#41005001)
    Close and embassy and storming one are two very different things.

    In closing an embassy, you're doing the diplomatic version of saying, "Hey, we don't like the way you're acting, get off my lawn".

    Storming an embassy involves sending and armed attack force into another countries sovereign territory.

    If you didn't know, closing an embassy is something that happens now and then, but storming an embassy is tantamount to a military invasion and can start a war. Sure, there's no way Ecuador is going to get into a war with the U.K., but they can still cause a buttload of trouble in the U.N. if the U.K. does it.
  • by brokeninside (34168) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:56PM (#41005031)

    Exactly right, the actual wording of the letter can be found in box at the link to TFA.

    Foreign minister Ricardo Patino said the letter from the UK to Ecuador stated: ``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.''

    It went on: ``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.''

    So, for example, the UK could end its recognition of Ecuador's diplomats so that they all go home and the embassy is no longer an embassy. At this point, the UK could storm the building but the building would no longer be Ecuador's diplomatic mission to the UK.

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:56PM (#41005041)

    The source linked by the parent is misleading. The events are being live-tweeted by one James Albury [twitter.com]. He has since clarified that:

    I wouldnt describe it as a raid. The police entered side door peaceably. I dont think area they are in is sovereign Ecuadorian.

    Just regular, everyday police. Not armed or anything and were apparently allowed in by Ecuadorian officials.

  • Re:Yeah (Score:3, Informative)

    by qbitslayer (2567421) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @10:00PM (#41005087)

    You must be a US agent. The Ecuadorean embassy is not interfering with the legal system of the UK. They have the right under international law to determine whether or not someone who takes refuge on their sovereign soil (yes, the embassy is their soil) is a criminal or is running away from political persecution. Only a fool or a liar would deny that Assange is a political refugee.

  • Re:Yeah (Score:5, Informative)

    by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @10:01PM (#41005097) Journal
    Ah yes, re point 1, one of the "rape victims" alledgedly made Assange a nice breakfast after this so called rape took place, rather odd behavior after having been violated. As it turned out, both victims pressed charges only after finding out that Assange had been double dipping, after conferring with each other and then seeking legal council about their options. At the risk of sounding sexist and dismissing more sinister tin foil theories, I say the most palatable theory about this matter is that it is all about "a woman scorned", or two in this case.

    But let's suppose that something unconsentual has taken place here. If Assange is extradited to Sweden, charged and convicted for rape or whatever, and if it ends there, then I will publicly come out here and eat my words. But if he is extradited, fined or sentenced to do a little time, and then released to the custody of the US, by secret rendition or simple and legal extradition, then all you'll get is a fat "told you so"
  • Re:Yeah (Score:4, Informative)

    by Vaphell (1489021) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @10:15PM (#41005193)

    somehow UK didn't do shit in when someone liberally sprayed bullets with submachine gun from the 1st floor of Libyan embassy at anti-libyan protesters in 1984.
    1 killed policewoman, 10 wounded
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yvonne_Fletcher [wikipedia.org]

    murder vs no-rape rape - that does not compute.

  • Re:Yeah (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @10:20PM (#41005229)

    Yes, except the host state can't just enter except in an emergency, like a fire, earthquake, or rampage. Entering under color of the host's legal process is exactly the type of thing banned by treaty and international law.

    They can close the embassy, but they can't just do it willy-nilly. They have to give notice, reasonable time to allow the staff to wind up, and safe exit. If Assange is successfully appointed a diplomat, then they have to let him go. If they disagree with the appointment, they can declare their intention to treat him as non-staff, but must first give him reasonable time to leave.

    By treaty a country could appoint as a staff member someone with third-party nationality. Although that can be subject to change ahead of time, and it's unclear what the rule is in the UK wrt Ecuador.

    See the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations:

    http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/9_1_1961.pdf

  • by starcraftsicko (647070) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @10:37PM (#41005383)

    All of these 'situations' assume embassies that look a lot like the embassies that the US or Britain might normally have in foreign capitals.... Big mansion-like buildings surrounded by a fence... certainly something with a nice private place for a limo to pull up and still be on embassy grounds. Equador doesn't have one of those.

    Equador has a bit of office space in the middle of a building that has other office space. There is no private helipad or carport or other place to try any of the 'situations' that anyone has suggested. You can safely assume that he elevators/doors/stairs/windows are under surveillance. There'll be no sneaking.

  • by gay358 (770596) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @10:54PM (#41005595)
    During cold war, cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty [wikipedia.org] stayed 15 years in US embassy in Budapest to escape communists. But even communists weren't so evil that they would have violated the Vienna Convention. I hope that UK doesn't prove to be even more evil than communists.
  • Re:Yeah (Score:4, Informative)

    by morkk (42729) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @11:02PM (#41005669) Homepage

    The moment he is back in the authorities' hands Obama will declare him a terrorist and then it's game over - he will be outside the purview of the courts thanks to the "special arrangements" in place since 911.

  • Re:Slow down there! (Score:5, Informative)

    by donaggie03 (769758) <d_osmeyer@hotPERIODmail.com minus punct> on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @11:27PM (#41005895)
    According to dailymail, this all stems from a letter between the two nations which states "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."
  • by Bespoke (1421741) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @12:31AM (#41006285)
    Damn, and you were doing so well there for a minute.... But then you mentioned the Daily Mail (right-wing tabloid, for non-Brits - like The Sun without the tits) as your source for information about the NHS. Now most other things about the UK can be considered shitty (as with the US), but the one thing that *IS FOR CERTAIN* shitty in the UK is the Daily Fail. ;-)
  • by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @12:40AM (#41006375)

    The British empire was still existant then, but it wasn't "taking about half the countries on the damn planet as colonies"; it's expansion had pretty much halted by 1914.

  • by Esteanil (710082) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @01:18AM (#41006631) Homepage Journal

    I've run out of mod points, so mod parent up.

    I'm in the Norwegian system, and we're fairly well covered. I got really really ill 3 years back, you see. Turned out, there were these infections in my brain. 7 of them. And the reason my head hurt was that they were all expanding so fast I was heading into a coma. That's what I was told later, though. The first night:

    After being rushed into the ER and immidiately have 5 ER nurses and doctors (not sure how many was which) descend on me the moment I entered the ER, I was sent to a CT scan. She came back out, looked at me, and went back in to take another. Afterwards she told me: "You have had a small brain infarction", and my life ended. I thought.

    After 3 days, they sent me to another, bigger, hospital. Because, as I gathered the reasoning was, they could *also* open up my brain to check out the infections, but this other hospital could put me back together afterwards, so that's where I was going.

    During the next 5 weeks I am dying from one of the most common causes of my kind, runaway brain infections. As it turns out, after several doctors have taken a break from their vacation to answer important question... In fact, there were doctors all over Norway taking part in my diagnosis from the first night I was in hospital.

    3 weeks in they've taken enough MR pictures, and tried enough antibiotics and anti-tuberculosis and... Well. I especially liked the one that made me vomit every time I took it after 30m-2hrs. It made all my bodily fluids completely red. I still feel a little sorry for whoever had to repeatedly clean the bathroom right next to the hospital smoking room after I'd been there... A couple of times it looked like a massacre, and when I tried to rub it off with paper it just smeared.

    Suffice to say I was medicated, and to this day am I grateful for stereoids. They literally kept me alive for 5 weeks.

    As I was saying, after 3 weeks they had enough MR pictures to program the robot that was to enter my brain, take a sample, and exit. I had to be awake for the brain surgery. One of the reasons is that if my kind gets full anaesthetic there's a 40% chance we never rise again.

    They started by bolting a crown to my head. Just a circle, and bolts, all of which were drawn hard enough to stand firm in my cranium.
    Then, they started drilling. And I shall remember this feeling until the day I die. The universe was vibrating, and there was a sound that was more than a sound. And that sound was not entirely unlike a dental drill multiplied by... Something nicely logarithmic. I can't really even estimate it.

    Then they asked me questions now and again. I was doped to the gills, and mostly was very bored and wanted it to be over... When it was over, they added morphine. Vast amounts of morphine. Unlike all the other patients in the communal waking room, I wasn't sleeping. I was just in gradually^H^H rapidly rising pain.

    Later that night, when I was back in my very comfortable single room, I went to the bathroom, and fell partially asleep... This is my morphine-fueled dream:

    The interplanetary patent office, due to a severe temporal/causal blunder, has released the iPhone 12 instead of the iPhone 2 (which actually was releasing that day or one of the immidiately surrounding ones). I was holding an iPhone 12. This new model especially had this very interesting function I wanted to test. If you flipped your phone over to the left, it replicated, instantaneously creating a perfect copy of itself that you could lend to a friend. This copy would last for 12 hours. Unfortunately, the phone I'd gotten was bugged, and when I flipped it over to the left it just Made My Head Hurt Really Bad.

    All in all, the state spent... I don't know:
    Ambulance, 7 km. Air ambulance, 1hr30m. 10 weeks, mostly in solitary room in the most expensive department of the hospital. Infections. The room I slept in part of the time there probably cost many times what my house did.
    Unknown number of doctors * unknown number of hours, bu

  • by Hans Adler (2446464) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @02:37AM (#41007089)

    ... which are necessary to understand the situation.

    Ecuador has published the precise text of the letter. The key part is: "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." The UK has not denied this letter.

    The Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 was a reaction to the terrorist incident at the Lybian embassy in London in 1984. It's not easy to see how it is relevant from reading its text, but it does allow the UK to revoke diplomatic status of a (then former) embassy - to the extent that it is permitted by international law.

    Embassies are not extraterritorial. They are just inviolable - as long as they are embassies. Diplomats are not immune from being arrested (e.g. for drunk driving), just from prosecution. Diplomatic cars are not immune from being stopped by police, just from being searched.

    The Ecuadorian embassy in London is not a building but a flat on the ground floor of a larger building. Just google for images. The police can therefore legitimately enter the building (and has done so) without violating international law. This also makes it very hard to smuggle Assange out of the embassy, though maybe revocation of embassy status as necessary for storming the embassy, resulting in unsearchable relocation vans, would make this feasible. Also, it looks as if the physical conditions should make the prolonged presence of Assange in the embassy a nuisance in practical terms.

  • by hattig (47930) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @05:36AM (#41008021) Journal

    I don't think you understand the concept of "universal healthcare" at all. All you are interested in is yourself. So you earn enough to pay for private healthcare in the US. WHOOPEE! We all know that most people don't earn enough in the US to get the level of treatment you received. And then you used up your savings because *shock horror* the insurance doesn't really cover the costs at all. Yet you think this is great. Incredible reasoning.

    Also, you can get private healthcare in the UK if you choose and pay for it. It's not like you are forced to use the NHS.

    For what it provides, the NHS is incredibly cost efficient. And it provides a lot. Sadly this won't be the case in a few years because the Conservative government (the LibDem portion of the coalition is so minor, we know who is driving these horrendous changes) over here is intent on fulfilling their 60 year old wet dream of dismantling it and replacing it with costly private mechanisms - that no doubt the MPs and their friends will have their sticky greedy fingers in.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:33AM (#41009701)

    The UK is already looking like some Banana Republic if the law is "flexible" so that embassies can be made inexistent overnight.

    It's not a matter of the law being "flexible". That law was created after a policewoman (Yvonne Fletcher) was fatally shot from a window of the Libyan Embassy. The shooter was then untouchable because he was within the embassy. The law was created specifically so that criminal suspects couldn't permanently evade the process of law by sheltering in an embassy.

    I would hope that the UK government don't exercise the power this law gives them. IMHO, the alleged offence doesn't warrant it, and isn't even a crime in the UK. But they are not bending the law in any way if they do do it.

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