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Ecuador Grants Asylum To Julian Assange 923

Several readers have submitted news that as expected, Ecuador is formally accepting Julian Assange's request for political asylum. paulmac84 writes "The Guardian are live blogging the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister's announcement that Ecuador is to grant asylum to Julian Assange. In the announcement Minister Patino said, 'We can state that there is a risk that he will be persecuted politically... We trust the UK will offer the necessary guarantees so that both governments can act adequately and properly respect international rights and the right of asylum. We also trust the excellent relationship the two countries have will continue.' The Guardian also carries a translated copy of the letter the UK sent to Ecuador regarding the threat to 'storm' the Ecuadorian embassy." Also at Reuters.
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Ecuador Grants Asylum To Julian Assange

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  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:23AM (#41009571)

    The UK has stated it will storm the embassy by force, violating the Vienna Conventions. Equador has shown remarkable courage, doing something many in the international community doubted it could: It has stood up to tyranny. It has stated it will now bow under the threat of terrorism. It does not negotiate with terrorists.

    Your move, Britain.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ledow ( 319597 )

      The UK has stated it will storm the embassy by force, violating the Vienna Conventions.

      1) Where did the UK state that? (i.e. you HAVEN'T read the letter, which was published in the same newspaper linked to above - there is no mention of storming or even entering ANYTHING, ANYWHERE in the entire letter).

      2) It doesn't violate the Vienna convention to dissolve the embassy or even expel all the diplomatic staff. Go read it. It's quite clear that the UK can do that "at any time, and for any reason". Assange

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:42AM (#41009835)

        Re entering the embassy:

        You should be aware that there is a legal basis in the U.K. the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act which would allow us to take action to arrest Mr. Assange in the current premises of the Embassy.
        We very much hope not to get this point, but if you cannot resolve the issue of Mr. Assange's presence on your premises, this route is open to us.

        So yes, they are saying as openly as diplomatic-speak goes, that they are prepared to enter Ecuador embassy even by force and take Assange.

      • by Alkonaut ( 604183 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:54AM (#41010097)

        Stripping the embassy privileges would mean they could go in and fetch him. This would be in accordance with conventions, but would cause serious diplomatic fallout.

        The next option is to claim that the embassy is already in violation of the conventions, since it harbors criminals. You just can't do that forever and still follow the conventions. What the UK would do here is then to throw out an ambassador or like the above, strip the diplomatic privileges alltogether from the embassy. This too would cause serious diplomatic fallout.

        The simplest option is to simply wait until he leaves the embassy, and just stop the car. The Vienna convention is quite clear on the fact that you can stop/search a diplomatic vehicle if there is a suspected crime. So the whole "sneak assange out to the airport in an embassy car" does not seem like a watertight plan. Even simpler, you could just block any way a car could leave the embassy, forcing people to walk from the embassy thereby letting him be arrested without having to search a car. In any case, I bet he will be extradited to sweden sooner or later. I'm also quite sure that once there, he will be questioned and released quickly (so quickly that the swedish authorities can claim not to know his whereabouts when the US asks, thereby avoiding a diplomatic problem between sweden and the US). There was a political scandal with the CIA smuggling suspected terrorists from Sweden to an egyptian CIA run prison where they were tortured, and no politician in Sweden will want to be involved in anything related to extradictions and the US again. At this point it is merely a question of prestige for the swedish legal authorities.

      • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @10:03AM (#41010259)

        1) Where did the UK state that? (i.e. you HAVEN'T read the letter, which was published in the same newspaper linked to above - there is no mention of storming or even entering ANYTHING, ANYWHERE in the entire letter).

        That would be the last story [slashdot.org] slashdot posted on this... 12 hours ago, and it was based on a BBC story [bbc.co.uk] mentioning the letter, and to quote directly from the Foreign Minister of Equador: "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."

        2) It doesn't violate the Vienna convention to dissolve the embassy or even expel all the diplomatic staff. Go read it. It's quite clear that the UK can do that "at any time, and for any reason". Assange isn't covered by that, no matter what.

        It violates article 9 of the Vienna convention, a treaty signed by the UK which supercecedes national law. That's the very definition of a treaty. The US has stated it has withdrawn from the Vienna convention, which is why it considers itself able to commit forced extradition of other countries citizens without any need to explain or justify itself. It has taken the diplomatic position of "We have more guns. Go ahead and try and stop us, but some piece of paper means nothing to us."

        Rather than take Assange out of the embassy, they have threatened (indirectly and politely) to take the embassy away from Assange. Which is perfectly legitimate.

        Yes, well, I see you have your life and liberty. I can't take away your liberty, so I'll just threaten to take your life -- indirectly and politely. It's perfectly legitimate because although it ends the exact same way, I can now say I never threatened to take away your liberty... your dead corpse will still have it. My internet logic is unbeatable!

        Legitimacy isn't defined as what you can get away with; It's sticking to what you said before. And the UK signed the treaty, and the treaty is very explicit about this, in no uncertain terms, beyond any internet-troll logic: Once asylum is granted, the other country can't do anything to that person. Not while they're at the embassy. Not while they're in a vehicle leaving the embassy under the embassies protection. Not while they're at the airport getting out of the car. Not once they're in the air. Not anything. Anywhere. At anytime. For any reason. Period. End. Of. Discussion.

        To quote directly from the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations [un.org], source from the website of the organization responsible for its creation and oversight, the UN, Article 22, Item 1: The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission, as wll as Article 29, The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention.

        You'll note it says person of a diplomatic agent; which refers to anyone under the protection of that embassy. It does not require approval of the host country, and does not restrict in any way that diplomatic envoy's right to designate any person as being under their protection, at any time, for any reason.

        • by Yaruar ( 125933 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @10:59AM (#41011231)

          Actually if you read it more carefully

          Article 1

          A “diplomatic agent” is the head of the mission or a member of the diplomatic staff of the mission;

          Assange isn't a diplomat and if Equador tried to make him one Britain can just refuse to accept him

          Article 9

          1.The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the
          sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is
          persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable. In any such
          case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions
          with the mission. A person may be declared non grata or not acceptable before arriving in the territory of
          the receiving State.
          2. If the sending State refuses or fails within a reasonable period to carry out its obligations under
          paragraph 1 of this article, the receiving State may refuse to recognize the person concerned as a
          member of the mission.

          Either way, Assange is at best going to be stuck in the embassy forever, at worst will need to go to sweden.

          • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @01:30PM (#41013417)

            A âoediplomatic agentâ is the head of the mission or a member of the diplomatic staff of the mission;

            person of a diplomatic agent. Big difference. That's anyone the diplomatic staff says is under their protection. One use for this is couriers. Let's say a local courier service is contracted to deliver, say, a new passport for one of its citizens that had one lost or stolen. Such a person can be designated ad hoc and without the approval of the host country, and gains the protections of the Vienna Convention while the package is delivered. The country's police can't legally detain or arrest the courier. Same with any other diplomatic package. Without this ability, embassies couldn't conduct routine business in the host country.

            Article 9 states that the host country does have the right to expel a diplomatic envoy, or any member thereof, but they have the right to vacate "within a reasonable period of time" and cannot be arrested or detained in so doing. Article 9 is basically a leasing agreement: it can be revoked, but that doesn't mean the landlord gets to keep the people or property that are part of the diplomatic envoy.

            If your position was tenable, then the moment war broke out, or during war, or during any conflict whatsoever, no embassies could be left in the other country because of the risk of violence or attack by that country... which makes the entire point of an embassy go away: A way of maintaining diplomatic relations. There's plenty of history of embassies being attacked and bombed by the host country... and it's always been condemned internationally as a violation of the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations -- and the countries that do that tend to not have very many embassies or diplomatic relations with other countries after that. Countries that have broken the Convention aren't trusted, and have to resort to military force to address any of the problems that would have otherwise been resolved diplomatically.

            The Conventions benefit everyone -- it allows things to be resolved peacefully. When you violate the treaty, or (in the case of the US) withdraw from it, you are sending a clear signal to the international community that you are a militant state who prefers to solve all of its problems with violence. I hope Britain has the cash to support a much larger standing army than it does now... and I do wonder how they'll avoid the problems of resorting to military force all the time -- Another country that likes to do this, the United States, is bankrupting itself and all measures of quality of life for its citizens are falling because of its lack of restraint in diplomatic matters. Will Britain's citizens tolerate the destruction of its middle class as complicitly as the US has? If you're a UK citizen who supports this unilateral action, you should open your wallet right now and ask yourself if you can do with less. It's your choice, but take it from a US citizen -- it costs more than you think.

      • Solution...

        If Britain does such, Ecuador should

        a) seize the British embassy
        b) hold the British embassy employees hostage until Assange is given free travel
        c) threaten to eject all citizens of the British commonwealth

        It'd really raise a media fuss, and probably gain Ecuador a lot of tourism.

    • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @10:17AM (#41010513)

      Let me guess, you don't like my use of the word Terrorist with regard to your favorite country, because if the UK extradites to Sweden, Sweden extradites to the US, and of course the US would never ask their close ally, the UK, to commit an act of terrorism, since they're so big on the whole War On Terrorism.

      Except that's exactly what this is. The very definition of terrorism is "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes", and that's exactly what the UK has done when it threatened to 'storm the embassy' in order to gain political advantage.

      Stop modding me down for saying what is literally and precisely what has happened. You might not like the verbiage, but it's the plain facts of the case -- it was a terroristic threat, and Equador courageously said "No." And that's remarkable precisely because it wasn't a threat made by some backwater country who's primary natural resource is dirt, and most of their citizens live in grass huts. This was made by a country with nuclear weapons, a standing force of hundreds of thousands, and could easily wipe Equador off the face of the Earth. They said "No," to that. They're risking everything to stand up for their principles.

      They deserve to be commended, and I refuse to be silenced for standing up and applauding their resistance to bow to terroristic threats. Now go ahead, mod me to oblivion. And bravo Equador.

      • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @11:10AM (#41011391) Homepage

        Actually, when the UN went to officially define "terrorism", they had to change the wording because of this exact problem. It now officially states that it's "the use of violence and threats by non-state actors to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes".

        Got that? It's officially not terrorism if a government does exactly the same things as, say, Hamas does.

  • by Pirulo ( 621010 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:24AM (#41009577)
    Having sex in Sweden can get complicated
    • by bayankaran ( 446245 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:48AM (#41009959) Homepage

      Having sex in Sweden can get complicated

      Yes, but the moral of the story is "mistakes destroy you, whether Assange or United States of America."

      Generally we wonder "how can such an evil (corporation | government | politician | dictator) survive". They survive and do well only until they make a mistake. Being evil and survival has no connection. Luckily the evil are prone to make mistakes...so the world more or less works.

      Assange made a mistake...he should have controlled his emotions. If he is innocent he might have fallen for a honey trap - a classic n00b mistake. If he is not innocent he made a bloody epic mistake.

  • Extradition to US (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ly4 ( 2353328 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:28AM (#41009631)

    Something that was in the press release, but that is not being widely reported:

    Ecuador offered for Assange to go to Stockholm tomorrow if there was no extradition to the US.

    Sweden refused.

    • by stiggle ( 649614 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:41AM (#41009823)

      They offered for Swedish investigators to come to the embassy and interview Assange there - they refused.

    • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:48AM (#41009935)

      That was only part of it, they also tried to get the UK to do the same and guarantee there was no potential for Assange to then be moved onto the US after Sweden too but they wouldn't.

      They also made it clear Sweden can and has in the past interviewed people in foreign embassies and so Sweden does have the legal capability to do this.

      They asked the US to also confirm whether there were any plans to try and get Assange over Wikileaks and the US wouldn't comment on that either.

      It was all in all really interesting, because the statement basically drove a bulldozer through all the anti-Assange arguments that have been made here on Slashdot over the last year or so. All the stuff about how there were protections against Assange being moved on from Sweden to the US preventing that being possible, and all the crap about how Sweden supposedly doesn't allow in it's law for questioning via video link or in foreign countries hence the need for extradition turns out to be complete and utter crap.

    • by Zironic ( 1112127 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @10:18AM (#41010539)

      Sweden didn't so much refuse, as explain why they can't. See just like most civilised countries Sweden has separate branches of government and extradition is handled by the Judicial one. While the Parliament has the last say in whether to extradite or not, giving a guarantee would violate the process.

    • by Alkonaut ( 604183 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @11:03AM (#41011303)

      No one in Sweden can offer any such "guarantees" about future extradiction. So the claim that they asked for guarantees and were refused is a cheap trick. It wasn't possible in the first place, and it is very possible that whoever asked already knew this.

      Why the swedes continue to refuse to question assange in the UK is a mystery, and at this point that is the whole reason for this debacle. I think now they will go to the UK and question assange, after which the charges will be dropped (there isn't much of a case here). Once the charges are dropped I think everyone will see how ridiculous this whole thing really was. There was no case, everything that was needed was a simple questioning, but it somehow grew to ridiculous proportions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:32AM (#41009693)

    BREAKING NEWS: "Al-Qaeda is hiding a stock of WMDs in Ecuador", says a US diplomat.

  • by Dudibob ( 1556875 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:43AM (#41009859)
    To say I am ashamed of the actions the the Government to even threaten the Ecuador embassy with stripping it of its diplomatic status. For the alleged crimes Assange has committed this action is way way way over the top and obvious for all to see.
    • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @10:27AM (#41010697)

      Then let me stand up and join you. I'm an American. I'm sorry my country has used back room deals to convince your country to make a terroristic threat because it was too cowardly to make. Everyone can plainly see at this point Sweden and the UK both caved to US demands to fabricate excuses and crimes to get this man back here -- all because he embarassed us politically, showing the world our true colors in the war on terror. I, too, am ashamed of my governments actions.

      I hope you will not think any less of America's citizens because of the actions of the American government.

  • by dark-br ( 473115 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:59AM (#41010195) Homepage

    ... to work out that there is definetely something fishy going on with the whole extradition story.

    To begin with when both woman when to the police station to "report" Assange what they stated was NOT that they were raped but instead that he REFUSED to use a condom and they wanted to confirm with the police if they had the power to force him to take a STD test. Pure and simple! Now the police officer that took their statements called the prosecutor and, given the nature of the inquire, it already starts to sound a bit fishy. When the woman were told that they will issue an arrest warrant for Assange one of them REFUSED to continue with the statements and also even REFUSED to sign what had already been said. It sounds to me that it's pretty obvious that the public prosecutor that was called from that police station informed "someone" that they might had something on Assange.

    There is so much to this it's hard to consolidate in a short coment but I would suggest watching this documentary on the subject:

    http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/07/19/3549280.htm [abc.net.au]

    I don't buy for a second that the woman were raped. And given all the evidence already presented in Sweden I don't think anyone does. The question has got to be related to something else, not even Kadafi had a RED Notice put on him, not even the Syrian president, it's an orange notice, but hey, he refused to use a condom, that's seems justified!

    • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @11:27AM (#41011629)

      yup, in short, its called 'the smell test'.

      this does not pass the smell test.

      it seems rather fishy to me.

      (ok, have at the obvious joke in my wording....)

      but seriously, international incident over something that is NOT rape, by most of the worlds' standards?

      interpol called because of a sex scandal?

      no, this does not pass the smell test. its bullshit and we all know this. we were not all born yesterday.

  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @09:59AM (#41010199) Homepage

    Assange doesn't need asylum, there is no threat of unfairness or risk to Assange.

    And if you don't hand the bloody miscreant over, we'll rescind your embassy's status and send troops into your former embassy and seize Assange.
    (Kudos to Ecuador for doing the right thing and not conceding to a bully.)

  • Pinochet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paugq ( 443696 ) <pgquiles.elpauer@org> on Thursday August 16, 2012 @10:43AM (#41010957) Homepage

    Pinochet: well-known and repeatedly convicted dictator. UK verdict: let go free

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indictment_and_arrest_of_Augusto_Pinochet [wikipedia.org]

    Assange: not even charged, more than doubtful testimonies, a "crime" which does not even exist outside Sweden (sex without condom!). UK verdict: all kinds of threaten and proposal to violate Vienna Convention

    Way to go UK, way to go.

"Pull the wool over your own eyes!" -- J.R. "Bob" Dobbs