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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Britain and Ecuador Fighting over Julian Assange

It seems that the governments of the United Kingdom and Ecuador have started to use fighting talk when discussing the case of WikiLeak’s founder Julian Assange. The matter is that Ecuador is accusing the United Kingdom of posing a “threat” to storm its embassy in London with the purpose of arresting Julian Assange. Meanwhile, the language of the accusation Ecuador was using looked similar to that of a country about to declare war.

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Local media confirm that the Foreign Office claims it is able to lift the embassy’s diplomatic status in order to fulfill a “legal obligation” to extradite Assange. Nevertheless, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister was furious at the comment, and it might also backfire incredibly on the British government. The interesting fact is that the idea of the British arresting Assange has already managed to unite Ecuador’s government and opposition.

Until this moment, the opposition has accused the country’s President of mishandling the case, but today it changed its mind and is claiming that the British are mishandling it. The fears are that if the United Kingdom shuts down the embassy, it might make the President appear a hero in the eyes of his voters as he comes into a general election.

Several police officers are outside the Ecuadorian embassy, in Knightsbridge, while supporters of the WikiLeaks founder have gathered behind a police cordon. Meanwhile, in Ecuador, the protesters are camped outside the UK embassy in Quito with signs reading “We are sovereign, not colonies”.

Ecuador Foreign Minister received a letter from the British government with a threat that the country’s government might storm the London embassy if it didn’t hand over Assange. The Minister said such a threat was simply improper of a democratic, civilized and rule abiding country like the UK. In addition, Ecuador wasn’t a British colony and in the event that the measure contained in the British official communication is enacted, this move will be regarded by Ecuador as an unacceptable, unfriendly and hostile act, i.e. an attempt against their sovereignty. In other word, it would force Ecuador to respond.

In response, the United Kingdom have pointed out that the use of the diplomatic premises to harbor individuals like this isn’t compatible with the Vienna Convention. The United Kingdom claimed that it could use the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987, which allows the country to revoke the diplomatic status of an embassy on British soil. This would potentially allow the law enforcement agents to enter the building to arrest Julian Assange.

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