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WikiLeaks' Assange Hopes To Exit London Embassy "Soon" 299

Posted by samzenpus
from the leaving-the-building dept.
An anonymous reader writes Julian Assange has hosted a press conference in which he indicated he is soon about to leave the embassy of Ecuador in London. From the article: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent over two years in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid a sex crimes inquiry in Sweden, said on Monday he planned to leave the building 'soon', but Britain signaled it would still arrest him if he tried. Assange made the surprise assertion during a news conference alongside Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. But his spokesman played down the chances of an imminent departure, saying the British government would first need to revise its position and let him leave without arrest, something it has repeatedly refused to do.
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WikiLeaks' Assange Hopes To Exit London Embassy "Soon"

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  • Hello! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Over here! Look at me! I'm still here!

    • Re:Hello! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Monday August 18, 2014 @11:54AM (#47696331)

      Yea Snowden really took his thunder away.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Did you expose government corruption, lies, murder, abuse of Constitution, etc? Then nobody cares about your aggrandizement.

    • Re:Hello! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by penguinoid (724646) <spambait001@yahoo.com> on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:52PM (#47697885) Homepage Journal

      Over here! Look at me! I'm still here!

      When a bunch of powerful people want to quietly vanish you, staying in the public's awareness could save your life.

      • Re:Hello! (Score:4, Informative)

        by Rei (128717) on Monday August 18, 2014 @04:36PM (#47698591) Homepage

        Link

        He phoned ahead to the police station to tell them he was coming. There were two phones on his lap but he answered neither one himself. A French journalist was following the car but lost us. At the police station, Sarah stopped and said: ‘Shall I do the honours?’ I watched as she went out and searched the bushes.

        ‘Is she checking for paparazzi?’ I asked.

        ‘I wish,’ said Julian.

        ‘What then?’

        ‘Assassins.’

        There was this incredible need for spy-talk. Julian would often refer to the places where he lived as ‘safe houses’ and say things like, ‘When you go to Queensland there’s a contact there you should speak to.’

        ‘You mean a friend?’ I’d say.

        ‘No. It’s more complicated than that.’ He appeared to like the notion that he was being pursued and the tendency was only complicated by the fact that there were real pursuers. But the pursuit was never as grave as he wanted it to be. He stuck to his Cold War tropes, where one didn’t deliver a package, but made a ‘drop off’. One day, we were due to meet some of the WikiLeaks staff at a farmhouse out towards Lowestoft. We went in my car. Julian was especially edgy that afternoon, feeling perhaps that the walls were closing in, as we bumped down one of those flat roads covered in muck left by tractors’ tyres. ‘Quick, quick,’ he said, ‘go left. We’re being followed!’ I looked in the rear-view mirror and could see a white Mondeo with a wire sticking out the back.

        ‘Don’t be daft, Julian,’ I said. ‘That’s a taxi.’

        ‘No. Listen to me. It’s surveillance. We’re being followed. Quickly go left.’ Just by comical chance, as I was rocking a Sweeney-style handbrake turn, the car behind us suddenly stopped at a farmhouse gate and a little boy jumped out and ran up the path. I looked at the clock as we rolled off in a cloud of dust. It said 3.48.

        ‘That was a kid being delivered home from school,’ I said. ‘You’re mental.’

        People turned up out of nowhere. No one introduced them properly, and they didn’t have titles anyway: they were just Carlos or Tina or Oliver or Thomas. One night in Ellingham Hall, a French guy called Jeremy came in with a sack of encrypted phones. Julian always seemed to have three phones on the go at any one time – the red phone was his personal one – and this latest batch was designed to deal with a general paranoia that newspapers were hacking all of us. It was always like that: sudden bursts of vigilance would vie with complete negligence. There was no real system of security or applied secrecy, not if you’ve read about how spy agencies operate. Julian would speak on open lines when he simply forgot to take care. The others kept the same mobiles for months. And none of them seemed to care about a running tape recorder. Granted, I was there to ask questions and record replies, but still, much of what they said had nothing to do with the book and they simply forgot about it. Only once was I asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, when Julian gave me a hard-drive containing very sensitive material, but they forgot I had the drive and never asked for it back.

        The guy was living like a character in a spy novel long before he started Wikileaks; he's a total paranoid regardless of what threats are actually present. The last person you want running an organization that might draw negative attention from powerful entities is a guy who grew up (for a period, at least) in a white supremicist cult [wikipedia.org] and then was pursued by them for years after he and his mother fled.

  • I thought that embassy officials and their property had diplomatic immunity. (I remember stories about drugs being smuggled in diplomatic pouches.)

    Suppose they drove a van into the embassy, Assange got in (or didn't get in), and they drove it out to an airport.

    Wouldn't the van be covered by diplomatic immunity, and immune to being searched?

    • by ZipK (1051658) on Monday August 18, 2014 @12:05PM (#47696437)

      Suppose they drove a van into the embassy, Assange got in (or didn't get in), and they drove it out to an airport.

      Your plan is close, but you would actually need a man-sized diplomatic pouch, large enough for Assange to crouch within, with the zipper fully closed with a diplomatic seal. He'd need to stay in the pouch until his plane was outside territorial airspace.

      • Re:Diplomatic pouch? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Monday August 18, 2014 @12:45PM (#47696795) Homepage Journal

        Suppose they drove a van into the embassy, Assange got in (or didn't get in), and they drove it out to an airport.

        Your plan is close, but you would actually need a man-sized diplomatic pouch, large enough for Assange to crouch within, with the zipper fully closed with a diplomatic seal. He'd need to stay in the pouch until his plane was outside territorial airspace.

        The "diplomatic pouch" concept comes from the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, art. 27:

        Art. 27(3): The diplomatic bag shall not be opened or detained.

        However, the next section kills your plan:

        Art. 27(4): The packages constituting the diplomatic bag must bear visible external marks of their character and may contain only diplomatic documents or articles intended for official use.

        Diplomatic pouches have been opened in the past when they contained, for example, mines, drugs, and even a person - and they weren't violations of the Convention, because they were no longer diplomatic pouches. [wikipedia.org]

        • by nbauman (624611)

          There must be a way to do it. Maybe they could appoint Assange a diplomatic courier.

          Once they ship a big box, with a diplomatic seal on it, the host country can't open it. It's like a Fourth Amendment protection. So they could send a few big boxes through, see what the Brits do, and if they can get it through a few times, slip Assange in one of them. Like a shell game.

          • There must be a way to do it. Maybe they could appoint Assange a diplomatic courier.

            Once they ship a big box, with a diplomatic seal on it, the host country can't open it. It's like a Fourth Amendment protection.

            That's like saying the police can't search you without a warrant, because it's a fourth amendment violation. Sure they can, they just can't use anything they find against you in court. For example, if they search you and find a crack pipe and destroy it but never charge you with possession, you're going to have a really tough time alleging a violation of your civil rights without first admitting that you were carrying.

            Similarly, the host country can open the diplomatic bag, find the drugs/weapons/person,

            • by nbauman (624611)

              Do the British regularly search suspicious human-sized boxes coming out of the Venezuelan Embassy?

              If the Venezuelans send these boxes regularly, and the British don't usually search them, then the Venezuelans could slip Assange into one of the boxes.

              • Too bad the venezuelan's don't have anyone to smuggle out...isn't he at the Ecuadorian embassy?

              • Do the British regularly search suspicious human-sized boxes coming out of the Venezuelan Embassy?

                If the Venezuelans send these boxes regularly, and the British don't usually search them, then the Venezuelans could slip Assange into one of the boxes.

                Or, they could throw each box into temporary quarantine in a vacuum chamber (or one filled with an inert gas) for 10 minutes "to be safe against the unintentional transportation of undesirable bacteria". How long can Assange hold his breath?

            • by rastos1 (601318)

              That's like saying the police can't search you without a warrant, because it's a fourth amendment violation.

              All that is needed to beat fourth amendment is "probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation".

        • by nbauman (624611)

          What would the Israeli Embassy have done if they had given Jonathan Pollard sanctuary in their Washington office? He showed up with the FBI hot on his tail, and he expected them to let him in, but they refused.

          The Israeli Embassy was sending home crates of Pollard's secret papers. They could have slipped him into one of those crates.

    • The US has an exception to the rule that statesf: If a foreign diplomat is deemed a spy, fuck it. It goes back to the cold war era.
      • by geekmux (1040042)

        The US has an exception to the rule that statesf: If a foreign diplomat is deemed a spy, fuck it. It goes back to the cold war era.

        If a true "fuck it" mentality existed, he would have likely been ousted long ago.

        It would also question the entire purpose of an embassy sitting in a foreign country. People that would have wanted him eliminated would have done so long ago without the burden of political correctness. "Fuck it" does not bother with manners.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      Assange is not a recognized diplomat and is subject to arrest. I'm sure the host country would be within their rights to arrest him if they saw him. He is really only protected when he is not on British soil (i.e. within the embassy).

      Police have the right, diplomats or no, to stop and ID anybody on the public street. This includes the stopping of any vehicles out on the road. They may even detain diplomats, until their status can be fully validated. So, if they suspected Assange was intending to leave,

      • by jeremyp (130771)

        Surely Police in the UK have the right to stop and require people to identify themselves, especially when in a car.

        No. If you are driving a car, the police can stop you for any reason and you must present your documents (driver's licence, registration, MoT and insurance). But you don't have to carry them on you and if you don't you need to present them at a police station within seven days. This only applies to the driver.

        At other times, the police have the power to stop and question you at any time. They can also search you, if they have reasonable grounds to believe you are carrying drugs, a weapon, stolen goods o

        • by bobbied (2522392)

          Surely they can detain you if they have reasonable suspicion that you are wanted (i.e. match the description of someone they wish to question, arrest warrant etc) and you cannot prove who you are, even if you are a passenger in a car? How else could they arrest anybody? All anybody would have to do is just refuse to produce identification (or not carrying any as you suggest) and not knowing for sure the police would have to let you go.

          In the USA the law sounds similar. Driving a car obligates you to produ

    • by PPH (736903)

      The British will be looking for just such a trick.

      Pardon me Mrs. Doubtfire. But you are blocking my view of that van in the embassy parking lot.

  • Eh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Balinares (316703) on Monday August 18, 2014 @12:18PM (#47696537)

    I almost want to believe he's deliberately teasing the authorities into increasing the surveillance around the embassy, at a time when that ongoing expense is causing angry murmurs the general public. That would be pretty clever.

  • Maybe he has a hot date and he needs to get to the pharmacy for some prescriptions?

  • by astro (20275) on Monday August 18, 2014 @02:08PM (#47697515) Homepage

    I see from the comments here that the governmental mission of character assassination of this fellow is largely complete and successful. Do you know Assange personally? Have you ever had dealings with him apart from seeing stories online and on TV about him? I don't and I haven't, and thus I don't pretend the biases against him that most people here seem to have been suckered into (nor do I have any bias toward him).

    I don't find a coordinated corporate media campaign to ruin this guy unrealistic in the least, though.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp

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