British May Invade Ecuadorian Embassy To Arrest Assange.
rights and freedoms |
Déardaoin Lúnasa 16, 2012 11:45 by pat c
The British are threatening to lift the Diplomatic status of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to facilitate the arrest of Julian Assange. The law the UK has informed Ecuador it could use in the case is the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987. It allows the UK to revoke the diplomatic status of an embassy on UK soil, which in this case would potentially allow police to enter the building to arrest Mr Assange for breaching the terms of his bail. This law was intended to deal with terrorist situations - not where someone was seeking refuge.
A BBC correspondent said he could not recall a precedent in which the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 had been used in this way. And former government lawyer Carl Gardner told BBC Radio 4's Today programme legal advisers would be "urging the most extreme caution".
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Police Assault Assange Supporters.
At a news conference in Quito on Wednesday, Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino, said a letter from the UK government had been delivered through a British embassy official.
"Today we received from the United Kingdom an express threat, in writing, that they might storm our embassy in London if we don't hand over Julian Assange," he said. "Ecuador rejects in the most emphatic terms the explicit threat of the British official communication."
He said such a threat was "improper of a democratic, civilised and rule-abiding country". He added: "If the measure announced in the British official communication is enacted, it will be interpreted by Ecuador as an unacceptable, unfriendly and hostile act and as an attempt against our sovereignty. It would force us to respond.
"We are not a British colony."
A number of police officers are outside the Ecuadorean embassy, in Knightsbridge, where some of Mr Assange's supporters have also gathered. A small number were handcuffed after minor skirmishes with officers.
Demonstrators also protested outside the British embassy in Ecuador's capital. Images from Quito showed protesters holding signs saying "We are sovereign, not colonies" and a union jack being stepped on.
"Giving asylum doesn't fundamentally change anything," said a spokesperson from the UK Foreign Office. "We must be absolutely clear this means that should we receive a request for safe passage for Mr Assange, after granting asylum, this would be refused."
10:35 GMT: “I think that this point in time, other nations need to stand up and defend Ecuador's right to make this decision. They haven't even made the decision, they're being threatened. Imagine threatening to storm an embassy to this because they're protecting the rights of a journalist. We have to respect Ecuador's sovereignty, something that the UK might like to take on board. This is a serious decision. ” – Christine Assange, Julian Assange's mother, Brisbane, Australia.
10:47 GMT: President of the Ecuadorian National Assembly Fernando Cordero has called a special meeting on the UK’s potential raid of the Ecuadorian Embassy. Although Parliament is in recess for 15 days, he called 124 legislators to attend the meeting. This session will not address the issue of Assange’s bid for asylum, Cordero said.
Follow live updates at: http://www.rt.com/news/ecuador-decides-assange-fate-813/