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

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 camperslo ( 704715 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:32PM (#41004123)

    What would Aldous Huxley say about all this? It's interesting to look at what some said over half a century ago.

    On 21 October 1949, Huxley wrote to George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-Four, congratulating him on "how fine and how profoundly important the book is". In his letter to Orwell, he predicted:


    Within the next generation I believe that the world's leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience.

  • by John3 ( 85454 ) <john3.cornells@com> on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:35PM (#41004161) Homepage Journal

    The UK government has already stated that they will not let Assange leave the country, so he's stuck in that embassy anyway. There have been rumors of smuggling him to the airport in a diplomatic limo, or hiring him as a diplomat, but those are not practical and the UK could detain him once he left the embassy grounds. So why bother storming the embassy?

    If by chance they do storm the embassy then it will be obvious that the US government stepped up the pressure and got impatient. Get the popcorn out, this could get interesting.

  • A Joke? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by charlesr44403 ( 1504587 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:37PM (#41004185)
    Is this a joke? Can the most civilized nation on earth sink to the level of the state criminals who stormed the American embassy in Iran?
  • Re:Yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:41PM (#41004233) Journal
    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. The police just want to ask him some questions; something they normally do over the phone in cases like this, or perhaps send over some officers to the UK for an interview. Nothing that warrants the Interpol warrant (which was issued against the rules), and certainly nothing worth storming an embassy for.
  • by subreality ( 157447 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:42PM (#41004239)

    Also note that they're threatening to raid the embassy for someone who's alleged crime isn't even treason - this is still over the dubious sex crime charges. It's amazing that that the UK is even considering setting this kind of precedent over a moderate criminal charge, just because he kind of embarrassed them.

  • by sgt_doom ( 655561 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:49PM (#41004325)
    And this is why VP Joey bin Biden of the USA claims Julian Assange is an international terrorist, while also proclaiming that Egypt's Mubarak wasn't a dictator.

    Just a heartbeat from the presidency, huh??

    Now, if Julian Assange is an international terrorist, what does that make the bloodiest of Americans, John Negroponte of Yale's Jackson Institute? [] [] [] []

  • Civilized????? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sgt_doom ( 655561 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:54PM (#41004377)
    Hmmm...somebody's neglected their history, but they do have the longest continuing corporation in history, and perhaps the oldest one in the Western Hemisphere, the City of London Corporation --- look it up sometime, a very, very interesting history, especially how they purchased the monarchy back circa 1700s (S.I.L.O. arrangement).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:56PM (#41004389)

    “Today we have received from the United Kingdom an explicit threat in writing that they could assault our embassy in London if Ecuador does not hand over Julian Assange,” Mr. Patiño said, adding defiantly, “We are not a British colony.”

    This will get messy.

    Also I find it hilarious that the NY Times coverage says the UK threatens to "barge in to the embassy", you know like just rudely walking instead of the full on assault that they are really planning. NY Times may be liberal domestically but it's a CIA shill when it comes to international news.

  • by lister king of smeg ( 2481612 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:15PM (#41004611)

    If i were Ecuador i would sneak him out a week or so before they announce that he is going to be leaving. that way when the storm the embassy looking for him they will come of as fools and in the process and causing a international incident of epic proportion gaining huge amounts of distrust of england internationally.

  • by ACS Solver ( 1068112 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:19PM (#41004661)

    There are a few misconceptions that crop up repeatedly. Keep mind though that IANAL.

    The diplomat's vehicle isn't sovereign land of the sending country. In fact, neither is the embassy. The Ecuadorian embassy in the UK is still sovereign land of the UK, however, it is inviolable (Article 22 of the Vienna convention). Same article specifies that the vehicles can not be searched. But it's precisely this status of embassies - as opposed to them being sovereign land of the sending state as it's often believed - is, in my reading, what the UK uses to give itself the right to revoke unilaterally that status, under the act cited in the summary.

    If the embassy has diplomatic vehicles parked within the premises and not across the street or elsewhere, Assange can get into one of those vehicles, with a diplomat, and drive somewhere, with the police not having the right to detain him. Problem for him is he'd have to get out at the airport or somewhere.

    Another comment I saw repeated several times elsewhere is that Ecuador could grant Assange citizenship and diplomat status, making him immune. This is not so - the receiving nation must explicitly agree to acknowledge each member of the mission. Obviously Assange would never be acknowledged as a diplomat by the UK. From my understanding of international law, even if Assange was to become the President of Ecuador, he would still not be enjoying immunity as that applies on official visits of the head of state.

    Anyway, his is getting interesting and rapidly heading somewhere. Ecuador is set to announce its decision on asylum in about 12 hours, the UK might be determined to act before then. If they do not, there might be drama around Assange trying to leave the UK. Unless, of course, he just stays holed up there indefinitely.

  • Don't forget (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:20PM (#41004669)

    An invitation was even given by the Ecuadorian government to the Swedish prosecutors to come to their embassy and speak with Assange, and they refused to cooperate.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:28PM (#41004761) Homepage Journal

    Why not, there could be no question who the aggressor is. Ecuador produces oil and if Syria flakes, the U.K. will really need a new supplier. They don't depend on the U.K. for much of anything and while smaller, their economy is stronger than the U.K.

    They could pare the staff down to Assange and a couple military police (to have token Ecuadorians there) and just let the invasion happen.

    Does anyone out there still believe all of this is related to what amounts to a charge of turning out to be a douche (which has yet to even be formally charged)?

  • by Xiroth ( 917768 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:28PM (#41004769)

    This isn't just about their own population. Violating the sovereignty of a friendly nation's embassy contravenes centuries of international law. This is the kind of action one would only expect from a rogue state.

    Among other things, if they do this, you can expect the European Parliament to come down *hard* on one of their member states for violating international law, and therefore damaging the standing of the European Union in international negotiations.

  • by Grave ( 8234 ) <(awalbert88) (at) (> on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:30PM (#41004789)

    That's a technicality that is irrelevant. The parent post is correct-if they storm an embassy over something so trivial, then a whole lot of risk is now transferred over to diplomats trying to keep dangerous situations in other countries from blowing up. As soon as something goes awry, nations will have to pull their diplomatic personnel out instead of trying to work through the problem. Otherwise, they run the risk of seeing their people killed in embassy attacks.

  • Re:Yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @10:17PM (#41005201)

    The Ecuadorian Embassy are the ones who OFFERED asylum because they appreciated what was in the Wikileaks cables. Assange didn't just show up on their doorstep demanding a favor. Why are you shilling so hard for the CIA? 90% of the posts in your user profile are anti-Assange attacks.

    Wikileaks is the only reason Bin Laden was killed. They leaked documents that revealed the CIA knew Bin Laden's courier was based in Abottabad. The USA then had no chance but to get him before Pakistani intelligence moved him again. Are you mad Bin Laden was caught for some reason? Do you have some financial interests in a continued American troop presence in South Asia? Maybe you should come clean.

  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @10:33PM (#41005337) Homepage Journal

    Central america and the northern portion of south america have been on a bit of an independent streak lately. They're much further in bed with the Chinese and Japanese than they are with the UK, who never had any formal colonies there. Most of central america and a good portion of south america have started decriminalizing drugs in the leadup to the election 2012, risking US foreign aid in the process in trade for the safety of their citizens. Unlike Africa and Eastern Europe, south america is mostly independent of the rest of the world - they fed europe during both world wars - and their standard of living, in the big cities at least, is on par with most of the rest of the world. Cutting ties with the UK is much lower on their list of "risky behavior" compared to a superpower like China who is dumping billions of dollars in to their economies each year with no strings attached.
    TL;DR the natives are educated and not dependent on western europe anymore, and have little need for their political shenanigans.

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @10:35PM (#41005355) Homepage Journal

    Embassies universally have a lot of internal safeties. Tunnels out, many stories of bunkers under the main building or complex, secured rooms for destroying materials in the event of an attack, and a plethora of secret rooms and content-destroying safes. I doubt even little Ecuador has missed out on this.

    There is probably already a plan in place. Assanage is on a lower level and has instructions on where to go if they get the intercom that the UK authorities HAVE truly lost their minds and are storming the place. In the time it takes them to get anywhere near him in the building, he'll be in a place that would take a crew with penetrating radar several days to find, assuming he's not long gone out a tunnel.

    I'd like to see the fine print on that "we reserve the right to revoke your embassy." I can't imagine them not having clauses for being given free license to take whatever they want out of the country without search, and a delayed effect. Diplomatic immunity is not so quickly, easily, and completely revoked. Otherwise it would not suit its purpose.

    And although they may have the right to revoke the embassy, there's probably a notice period required, so they can't go storming in before that expires. Until then, that embassy is foreign, sovereign soil. Storming it in that state would be no different than say, what the americans did when they scooped up Osama out of Pakistan. Imagine if they'd have gone in there to whisk away someone wanted for a clearly fabricated charge on a purely political basis? The world's reaction would be a lot different.

  • No shit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @10:49PM (#41005547)

    None of the Latin America countries enjoy being reminded of their past colonial status, or the continuing attitude of the US and European imperialists, whether former or not. I imagine if Britain really were so stupid as to storm the Ecuadoran embassy, every single one of their Latin American embassies would be stormed by the people, with the police stepping aside.

    There aren't many people anywhere in the world that see this as anything but the UK sucking up to the US. No civilized country has ever stormed an embassy that I can think of, other than the Iranian revolutionaries storming the US embassy, and that was in response to 25 years of living under the Shah who had been forced on them by the US. Does Britain really want to be the first modern civilized country to do something so outrageous, for a somewhat dubious rape charge, as the US's lapdog? I wouldn't be surprised to see the Conservative government fall to a vote of no confidence. I can't imagine too many UK citizens would think this a proper demonstration of national pride.

  • by Jeremy Allison - Sam ( 8157 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @12:38AM (#41006351) Homepage

    I just read your message again...

    "I just lost all my savings paying my wife's health costs"

    Wow. Just, wow. The fact you consider losing all your savings preferable to a National Health Service is, well..., just really *sad*.

    I know it's true, because I live here. But I'm always astounded when I'm reminded how Americans have absolutely no concept of what a civilized society really looks like.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @01:16AM (#41006619)

    We Americans did it too, long long ago, and it certainly wasn't pretty then either. But yes, the French revolution was pretty nasty too, with all the guillotining and all. Good point about Libya too; they changed their government recently, and look how the losers were treated (Gadafi was hunted down like a dog and shot).

    If the Brits storm the Ecuadorian embassy, it'd be funny if Ecuador stormed the British embassy in Quito in return. And maybe a bunch of other governments will storm the British embassies in their countries too.

  • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @01:16AM (#41006621)
    For all the conspiracy theorists out there, my question is, why would the Swedes would bow to U.S. pressure in the first place? Sweden isn't some corrupt and backwards little banana republic, they're a modern European democracy and they're perfectly capable of telling the U.S. to go f*** themselves if they feel like it. What leverage would the U.S. have over Sweden that they we could just dictate how their justice system works and what charges they bring against people? What, are we going to threaten that if they don't cooperate, America will block imports of IKEA's new Trogdör bookshelf?
  • Situation 6) Ecuador grants Assange asylum, the UK don't carry through their threat of storming the embassy and the situation remains as a stand-off with Assange holed up in the embassy ... until 2013 when an Australian election is due. Assange has already publicly stated that he is considering running for election to the senate next year. He does and is elected easily (as he would need only 14.3% of the population of whatever state he stands in to vote for him - probably Victoria). This escalates the situation to a much higher level - the UK/US/Sweden would now be looking at arresting an elected Australian politician.

  • by sabri ( 584428 ) * on Thursday August 16, 2012 @01:33AM (#41006727)

    Wow. Just, wow. The fact you consider losing all your savings preferable to a National Health Service is, well..., just really *sad*.

    Ok, small confession here: it wasn't all that much as I spend most of my hard-earned cash the past 10 months on my newborn daughter.

    However, the savings that I still had, went to healthcare. Not because we were not insured, but because this particular benefit stopped at $2000.

    I know it's true, because I live here. But I'm always astounded when I'm reminded how Americans have absolutely no concept of what a civilized society really looks like.

    Well, first of all I'm not American. I'm from The Netherlands and moved to the U.S. two years ago. Best decision ever. Yes, I pay more for healthcare. But then again, I pay less taxes. And the quality of healthcare here is just.... Astonishing. My wife gave birth to our daughter last year, and she compared the care she received with the care her sister received in The Netherlands (admitted, probably slightly different from the U.K., but still a similar socialistic approach where healthcare is almost for free). I won't bore you with the details (we're getting way off-topic anyway), but once again I was strengthened in my belief that moving here was a good idea.

    The concept of what a civilized society really looks like varies per person. I find it very civilized that I am fairly free to say what I think in this country (being the U.S. now), contrary to the U.K. (or The Netherlands, for that matter). I find it very civilized that I am welcomed by my neighbors and colleagues, and my slightly different background is respected, contrary to my previous residence. I can go on and on, but that would get very very off-topic.

    To stay on-topic, one of the very few things I find highly uncivilized, is that one country is threatening to invade another country's embassy over something as small as Julian Assange. (again, not saying that I approve of the way the U.S. is handling this, but the U.K. are behaving like morons, too).

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @02:10AM (#41006921) Journal

    You asked a bunch of questions, now lemme answer them, one by one ---
    Question #1:

    why would the Swedes would bow to U.S. pressure in the first place?

    The total of export from Sweden in 2011 is $204.2 billion

    Yes, _ONLY_ $204.2 billion !!
    The GDP of Sweden for 2011 is $538 billion
    By comparison, the gdp of the state of California, in 2010, came out to $1.936 trillion
    You read it right, the gdp of _a_single_state_ of USA is more than TRIPLE that of the gdp of the entire country of Sweden !!
    The biggest industrial corporation in Sweden is Saab, and it's crumbling. The Saab car company used to belong to General Motors of USA, and when they wanted to sell it to China, GM vetoed it and now, the whole deal is in limbo
    Sweden has to depend on USA for economic survival. It has no other choice.
    Question #2:

    Sweden isn't some corrupt and backwards little banana republic

    While the corruption level in Sweden is much less than that of in USA or India, or China, Sweden, by definition in economic sense, qualifies to be included in the "banana" category (not even a republic, for there is a Swedish royal family)
      Question #3:

    they're a modern European democracy and they're perfectly capable of telling the U.S. to go f*** themselves if they feel like it

    Sweden _is_ a European country, and Sweden is democratic, but so what?
    So is Greece, or Spain, or Portugal
    So what's your point on bring out the "European democracy" thing?
    Does a "European democracy" thing has a special ring to it? Or is it some sort of "brand value", huh?
    As for the "perfectly capable of telling the U.S. to go f*** themselves part, no, I'm afraid Sweden never dare to even dream of that, for they need USA to survive
    Reality is very very cruel to Sweden, and the Swedes know it
    They really have no other choice. They have to kow-tow to the U.S. of A.

  • the brits are basically good people but they have totally lost control over their gov.

    same with us in the US.

    if you think its so easy to change, you, maybe, can show us ignorant peasants how its done??

    This seems to be a common issue permeating across most developed countries. Decent people just wanting to live in peace, raise their kids, and have some fun - and rabidly mad governments out of control brutalizing their citizens on behalf of the multinational corporations and a couple of hegemonial superpowers without any accountability. The lame excuse for "democracy" in those countries is a mere detractor from the fact that they have long become entrenched oligarchies who will destroy any real competition prior to election time.

    Last time the establishment was changed in living history was ... when?

  • by Znork ( 31774 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @03:25AM (#41007345)

    You're thinking of a Sweden that no longer exists (if it ever did). The last decade has seen Sweden handing over people to CIA rendition flights straight to torture, implementing laws they've been told to by the US, etc. The claim has been that there have been trade threats, but frankly I believe it's more about the ambitions of the politicians and civil servants as any trade action would drag the EU into it.

    The current generation of Swedish politicians are corrupt cowards and they'll bend over to get a treat.

  • by rapiddescent ( 572442 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @05:51AM (#41008087)


    they can't change their country any more than we can.

    we're both fucked.

    the brits are basically good people but they have totally lost control over their gov.

    well, this has not gone unnoticed within the UK. The very fabric of the UK is at risk because the "Kingdom of Scotland" [] (one of the united kingdoms) has a growing independence movement; in fact, it has grown so much that Scotland's devolved parliament currently has a majority pro-independence government - something that the UK government had tried to avoid ever happening. The cracks are appearing and the approach that the UK government is taking does not sit well with some cultures within the UK. The Scottish Governament very quite pissed off when it was found that the UK Government allowed redention flights to refuel at Prestwick without telling anyone.

    I just wish Wikileaks had more information about the oppresive anti-independence movement that the UK, it's broadcaster and other quasi-governmental organisations are inflicting on Scotland. e.g. the BBC in Scotland shows endless documentaries about why being British is good etc that are not shown anywhere else in the union. See this A to Z [] of the propaganda that is inflicted on the Scots...

  • by Quasimodem ( 719423 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @04:21PM (#41016109)
    In 1945, the British were partitioning India and redrawing the maps in the middle east, the French were experiencing difficulty reestablishing their colony in Vietnam, the Chinese had almost unified their country, and the U. S. was presiding over the four-way split of Berlin; for all of which, I must take full responsibility and profusely apologize, since I was one year old in 1945, and was thoroughly briefed while having my nappies changed. Finally, I also have little difficulty remembering the American man-in-the-street’s responses to the 1981 storming of the United States embassy in Iran, as not just a diplomatic affront, but as a de facto declaration of war. It immeasurably lowered Iran's international reputation and was the assumed reason why America began supplying weapons and Intel to Saddam Hussein on the Iran–Iraq War a year later.

The absence of labels [in ECL] is probably a good thing. -- T. Cheatham