IKN

More matter with less art

The problem of arresting Assange inside a foreign embassy in the UK

A lot of talk around this Assange thing now, particularly about the way in which the UK has apparently threatened to break into the Ecuador embassy and arrest the guy. This would flagrantly contravene the Vienna Convention, but the UK is citing a national law that it says would allow them to do it. I’m not so sure about that, guys.
The law in question dates from 1987 and this link, to the British Law Society’s review of the law (i.e. a page that succinctly explains laws in the UK to non-lawyers such as I) shows the problem. Here’s the bit that matters, the reasons that the UK can revoke status of an embassy, either permanently or temporarily, under this law:

The Act is primarily addressed to these problems, and permits the government inter alia: 

1. to prevent missions from setting up offices in sensitive parts of London; 

2. to deal with the problem of empty former diplomatic premises by acquiring title to them and then selling them; 

3. to remove diplomatic status from premises which are being misused; 

4. to retaliate in kind of an overseas government insisted that a British mission move from existing premises or withheld consent to the acquisition of new premises.

As numbers 1,2 and 4 don’t count in this case, we’re left with #3, “misuse”, and what that might mean. I think that as asylum seeking, although uncommon, is one of those accepted practice things in embassies around the world, it seems very unlikely that it can be categorized under “misuse”.
Anyway, it’s now nearly 7am in Ecuador so any interesting developments will be added to this post later. Enjoy the show.

UPDATE: Just a couple of minutes ago and after a long presser, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño announced that his country would grant asylum to Julian Assange. The main argument for the granting of asylum is that neither the UK nor Sweden would provide guarantees that Assange would not be extradited to the USA to face charges that carry the death penalty there. 

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