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Julian Assange granted asylum by Ecuador.


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Why seizing Assange could break international law

By Mark Gollom,

The British government could find itself hauled before an international court if it moves in on the Ecuadorian embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been granted political asylum.

"It's pretty simple under international law," Temple University international law professor Peter Spiro told CBC News. "Without the consent of the state whose embassy is implicated, the host state may not enter those premises."

"The U.K. has no right to enter the embassy. Even if Ecuador is violating some other obligation, that does not justify British authorities entering the premises without Ecuador's consent," Spiro said.

Assange, who has been holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London since June 19, is trying to avoid extradition from the UK to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning for alleged sexual misconduct. On Thursday, Ricardo Patino, the foreign minister of Ecuador, announced the decision to grant Assange asylum.

But the story took on a new twist when Britain threatened it may invoke a 1987 law and revoke Ecuador's diplomatic protection.

The rules governing the rights of foreign embassies were set out in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic relations international treaty, of which Britain is a signator.

The treaty states that "the premises of the mission shall be inviolable" and that agents of the home country "may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission."

Spiro said the strongest argument for a host country to infringe on that inviolability would be in rare circumstances where a physical threat may be emanating from the embassy — like a fire, or a sniper.

"But just having someone seeking asylum? No. Because historically there are lots of cases of folks seeking so-called diplomatic asylum in embassies and the host state just pretty much has to put up with it," Spiro said.

Even if one member of the embassy murdered another, the host country would still have no right to enter the premises, Spiro said.

D.C.- based attorney Clemens Kochinke, who operates the website Embassy Law, said there is a general misconception that the soil on which the embassy stands is foreign territory.

"That's not true. The soil on which the embassy is built belongs to the host country. The host by way of treaty and general principle of international law grants the embassy immunity."

This means if authorities of a host country decided to enter the embassy without permission, it would not be considered an act of war or invasion. Instead, it would be seen as a breach of an obligation that's owed under the treaty, Spiro said.

But in the Assange case, Britain has cited a little-known law, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987, which it said would allow it to arrest. Assange within the embassy premises.

The law gives Britain the power to revoke the status of a diplomatic mission if the state in question “ceases to use land for the purposes of its mission or exclusively for the purposes of a consular post” — but only if such a move is “permissible under international law.”

“We very much hope not to get this point," Britain wrote in a letter to Ecuadorean officials,

The law was passed after the 1984 siege of the Libyan embassy in London, which was sparked when someone inside the building fatally shot a British police officer, Yvonne Fletcher. An 11-day standoff ended with Britain severing diplomatic relations with Libya and expelling all its diplomats.

But British legislation may be given little credence in an international court, where Ecuador could go to seek some sort of recourse.

"The downside for the U.K. if they are perceived as violating international law is that they are perceived as being an international lawbreaker and that has potential consequences in reciprocal situations," Spiro said.

"The next time the U.K. is protecting someone from a host state's jurisdiction, that country could barge right it in and say 'hey you guys did it in London, we're doing it here. It's going to be harder for the UK to invoke immunity if it has violated diplomatic immunity in a situation like this."

With files from The Associated Press

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/08/16/foreign-embassy-julian-assange-sovereignty.html

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Julian Assange appears on Ecuadorian embassy balcony

Crappy quality:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvrLTBvWpd8

I am here because I cannot be closer to you.

Thank you for being here.

Thank you for your resolve, and your generosity of spirit.

On Wednesday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy, and the police descended on the building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it, and you brought the world's eyes with you.

Inside the embassy, after dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through the internal fire escape.

But I knew that there would be witnesses.

And that is because of you.

If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Conventions the other night, that is because the world was watching.

And the world was watching because you were watching.

The next time somebody tells you that it is pointless to defend those rights we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark before the Embassy of Ecuador,

and how in the morning, the sun came up on a different world, and the courageous Latin American nation took a stand for justice.

And so, to those brave people.

I thank President Correa for the courage he has shown in considering and granting me political asylum.

And so I thank the government, and the Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino, who have upheld the ecuadorian Constitution and its notion of universal rights, in there consideration of my case.

And to the ecuadorian people for supporting and defending this constitution.

And I have a debt of gratitude to the staff of this embassy, whose families live in london, and who have shown me hospitality and kindness despite the threats that they have received.

This Friday there will be an emergency meeting of the foreign ministers of Latin American in Washington DC, to address this situation.

And so I am grateful to the people and governments of Argintina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Brazil, Mexico, Argintina, Peru, Chile, Argintina, Venezuala, Columbia and to all of the other Latin American Countries who have come to defend the right to asylum.

To the people of the Unitied States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Australia, who have supported me in strength, even when their governments have not. And to those wiser heads in government who are still fighting for justice. Your day will come.

To the staff, supporters and sources of WikiLeaks, whose courage and commitment and loyalty has seen no equal.

To my family and my children who have been denied their father. Forgive me. We will be reunited soon.

As WikiLeaks stands under threat, so does the freedom of expression, and the health of our societies.

We must use this moment to articulate the choice that is before the government of the United States of America.

Will it return to and reaffirm the values it was founded on?

Or will it lurch off the precipice, dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world, in which journalists fall silent under the fear of prosecution, and citizens must whisper in the dark?

I say that it must turn back.

I ask President Obama to do the right thing.

The United States must renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks.

The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation.

The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff, or our supporters.

The United States must pledge before the world that it will not pursue journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful.

There must be no more foolish talks about prosecuting any media organization, be it WikiLeaks or the New York Times.

The US administrations war on whistleblowers must end.

Thomas Drake, and William Binney, and John Kirakou and the other heroic US whistleblowers must - they must - be pardoned and compensated for the hardships they have endured as servants of the public record.

And the Army Private who remains in a military prison in Fort Leavenworth Kansas, who was found by the UN to have endured months of torturous detention in Quantico Virginia, and who has yet - after two years in prison - to see a trial, must be released.

And if Bradley Manning really did as he is accused, he is a hero, an example to us all, and one of the world's foremost political prisoners.

Bradley Manning must be released.

On wednesday, Bradley Manning spent his 815th day of detention without trial. The legal maximum is 120 days.

On Thursday, my friend, Nabeel Rajab, was sentenced to 3 years for a tweet.

On Friday, a Russian band were sentenced to 2 years in jail for a political performance.

There is unity in the oppression.

There must be absolute unity and determination in the response.

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Julian Assange hopeful a photo could help clear him of sexual assault allegations

  • by: Abul Taher

  • From: Daily Mail

  • August 27, 2012 7.05 am

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Julian Assange is hopeful a photograph taken in a Stockholm restaurant could help clear his name. Source: AFP

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Ecuador to continue Assange talks

ECUADOR will return to discussions over the future of Julian Assange with Britain “giving up its threat” to storm its embassy in London.

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IT seems an unremarkable image: a group of friends smiling broadly. But it is the photograph Julian Assange hopes will clear his name.

The Mail on Sunday has published a photo of a beaming woman, pictured with Assange and three other people, who would later tell police that 48 hours before the picture was taken, the WikiLeaks founder pinned her down in her flat and sexually assaulted her.

If the case ever reaches court – Mr Assange is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London – his lawyers will argue that the photograph undermines the 33-year-old woman’s entire story. And, they claim, there is more.

In the two days after the alleged assault in Sweden, Mr Assange and Woman A, as she is known, attended a conference and two dinner parties where it is claimed they were practically inseparable.

During one party, Woman A tweeted that she was "with the world’s coolest, smartest people!".

The photograph was taken on August 15, 2010, at the Glenfiddich restaurant in Stockholm, at a dinner of meatballs and schnapps hosted by Rickard Falkvinge, the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party (PP), which campaigns for greater government transparency.

Although by all accounts it was a jolly occasion, there was some serious discussion that at times became "passionate and intense".

Mr Falkvinge said the purpose of the dinner, which lasted three hours, was to sign a contract between the PP and WikiLeaks so Mr Assange’s organisation could use the party’s computer servers.

Also present was the deputy leader of PP, Anna Troberg, and the party’s IT manager, Richard Olson, who brought along his then fiancee, Sara Sandberg.

Since the assault charges were brought, Mr Falkvinge and Ms Troberg have given detailed statements to the police in support of Mr Assange. Mr Falkvinge said their testimony included observations about the body language between Mr Assange and Woman A, who arrived with another woman, called Pietra, who stayed just for the starter.

Mr Falkvinge sat next to Mr Assange, with Woman A sitting diagonally opposite them.

"Most of the night, Julian was speaking with me," Mr Falkvinge said. "This was a heads of organisation meeting and everybody had a counterpart to talk to. It was a professional dinner."

For Mr Falkvinge, one of the things that was striking about it, in view of what he later learned, was that Woman A volunteered to become Mr Assange’s press secretary during the meal. Mr Falkvinge has refused to go into details about the way Woman A behaved with Mr Assange, because he has to give evidence in court if a trial is held.

But he made it clear that he did not think Woman A behaved like a victim or someone who had suffered a traumatic sexual experience only two days earlier.

He said: "You can look at objective facts and draw far-reaching conclusions: the fact that we are at the dinner and it was with very passionate people and with good food and drinks; the fact that I and Anna Troberg have left depositions as key defence witnesses in the upcoming trial – that does tell you a lot.

"You can say what we saw was more consistent with the defence than the prosecution."

Due to Woman A’s complaint to the police, as well as that of another alleged victim, Mr Assange has been fighting extradition to Sweden from Britain for the past two years.

He insists he has been set up, and fears that going to Sweden is a ruse for him to be quickly extradited to America, where he could stand trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified US military documents on the WikiLeaks website.

His two-year fight against extradition took a bizarre twist when Mr Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in June seeking asylum.

He was granted asylum by Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa last week, igniting a diplomatic rift between Ecuador and Britain.

The Mail on Sunday has also learned that just hours after the alleged attack, Woman A accompanied Mr Assange to a Social Democratic Party conference.

According to police reports, it was there that Mr Assange met Woman B, aged 29, who would accuse him of rape.

The two women’s lawyer, Claes Borsgtrom, said yesterday: "We will only discuss the dinner at the restaurant and the picture in court."

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