Julian Assange Asylum in Ecuador: Britain Threatens to Storm Embassy, Assange Could Remain Holed Up for Days

On Thursday, the world waited with baited breath as the government of Ecuador prepared to make its decision over whether to grant political asylum to the founder of the whistle blowing organization WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. Assange has spent the last several months holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy in a final bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces charges over an alleged sex crime. Throughout the entirety of his case, it has become increasingly clear that the United States is behind the politically motivated prosecution of Assange from one country to the next. As Ecuador announced its decision to grant Assange asylum, however, the most shocking behavior has come from the government of Great Britain, which threatened to revoke the diplomatic protection offered by the embassy in a desperate attempt to seize Assange.

Analysts are now speculating as to whether orders from the United States are behind Great Britain’s threat to revoke the diplomatic protection of a sovereign state’s embassy. The move has led Ecuadorian officials to publicly denounce Great Britain, claiming that the time for British colonialism is over, and stating that Ecuador will be forced to consider it a hostile act if British officials are to storm Ecuador’s embassy or revoke its diplomatic status. Some Ecuadorian officials have even accused Britain of violating international law by making such threats, and it is clear that Britain’s relationship with the South American country will be left in tatters following this debacle. Many are left wondering if Great Britain would go to such lengths to prosecute an individual accused of no crimes under British law if it weren’t on behalf of the country’s most powerful ally. Considering the high number of sex offenders that go free in Great Britain, Assange hardly seems to be a substantial threat.

It now appears clear that the United States plans to implement whatever means necessary to put Assange behind bars, and Assange is doing whatever it takes to avoid the grasp of U.S officials. The convoluted nature of this case has led high profile Spanish judge and prosecutor, Baltasar Garzón, himself not unfamiliar with political persecution, to get involved as an attorney for Assange. Garzón is best known for having promoted the extradition of Chilean dictator Agosto Pinochet to Spain for the alleged torture and murder of Spanish citizens in Chile during Pinochet´s rule. He is also the only non-American judge to have investigated the role of Henry Kissinger in the coup against Chilean President Salvador Allende, and was recently involved in a lawsuit that was filed against him by Spanish ultra-right organizations for claiming himself competent to investigate war crimes dating back to the Spanish civil war and the time of Franco. Garzón's involvement in Assange's case alone belies its very political nature.

Garzón claims that Great Britain must honor Ecuador’s decision to grant Assange asylum, otherwise it will be breaking international law. British officials, including British foreign minister William Hague himself,have stated that diplomatic immunity will not be honored in this case due to the fact that Assange is a suspected criminal. So far, it appears that British officials have only gone so far as to prohibit the safe passage of Assange from Ecuador’s London embassy, meaning that Assange may remain a virtual prisoner within the embassy for some time to come. The next few days will be crucial in determining whether Great Britain is willing to violate international law in order to silence the voice of a person struggling for government transparency and calling for an end to illegal war.

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Cristina Maza

Cristina is a freelance journalist and editor based in Tbilisi, Georgia. She frequently writes about media, politics, social issues, technology, and international relations.

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