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UK determined to extradite Assange in spite of asylum granted by Ecuador

Thursday, August 16th 2012 - 19:27 UTC
Full article 57 comments
Police surrounding the Ecuadorean embassy in London where Assange is living. (Photo abc) Police surrounding the Ecuadorean embassy in London where Assange is living. (Photo abc)

Ecuador has granted asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange two months after he took refuge in its London embassy while fighting extradition from the UK, but Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK would not allow Assange safe passage out of the country.

Ecuador cited fears that Mr Assange human rights might be violated and Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño accused the UK of making an “open threat” to enter its embassy to arrest Assange.

“We are determined to carry out our legal obligation to see Julian Assange extradited to Sweden” said Foreign Secretary William Hague today.

“We are disappointed by the statement by Ecuador’s Foreign Minister today that Ecuador has offered political asylum to Julian Assange.

“Under our law, with Mr Assange having exhausted all options of appeal, the British authorities are under a binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden. We must carry out that obligation and of course we fully intend to do so. The Ecuadorian Government's decision this afternoon does not change that in any way. Nor does it change the current circumstances in any way. We remain committed to a diplomatic solution that allows us to carry out our obligations as a nation under the Extradition Act.

“It is important to understand that this is not about Mr Assange’s activities at Wikileaks or the attitude of the United States of America. He is wanted in Sweden to answer allegations of serious sexual offences.

“His case has been heard in our Courts. Following the court decision of 30 May this year, he exhausted all legal options available to him in the UK to prevent his extradition to Sweden. He then entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on 19 June. And since then we have worked patiently with the Ecuadorian authorities, both in London and Quito, in private discussions to seek a mutually acceptable resolution to this situation. We have held seven formal discussions as well as many other conversations.

“Given our need to fulfil our obligations under international law to deliver a suspect for questioning on serious offences, we have ensured that the Ecuadorian authorities have a complete understanding of the full legal context in this country.

“It is a matter of regret that instead of continuing these discussions they have instead decided to make today’s announcement. It does not change the fundamentals of the case. We will not allow Mr Assange safe passage out of the UK, nor is there any legal basis for us to do so. The UK does not accept the principle of diplomatic asylum. It is far from a universally accepted concept: the United Kingdom is not a party to any legal instruments which require us to recognise the grant of diplomatic asylum by a foreign embassy in this country. Moreover, it is well established that, even for those countries which do recognise diplomatic asylum, it should not be used for the purposes of escaping the regular processes of the courts. And in this case that is clearly what is happening.

“Ecuador has expressed its concerns about the human rights of Mr Assange and sought guarantees from us in that area regarding his extradition to Sweden and indeed about any onward extradition and we have painstakingly explained the extensive human rights safeguards built into our law.

“No-one, least of all the Government of Ecuador, should be in any doubt that we are determined to carry out our legal obligation to see Mr Assange extradited to Sweden. He faces serious charges in a country with the highest standards of law and where his rights are guaranteed. We believe that should be assurance enough for Ecuador and any supporters of Mr Assange.

“We will remain fully committed to seeking a legal and binding bilateral solution to this with the Government of Ecuador but it is important that everyone understands that as a nation under law, believing in the rule of law, we must ensure that our laws are respected and followed”.

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  • ChrisR

    Ecuador has the epitome of lying bastards who should be strung up from the nearest tree.

    And he is only the 'President'.

    What a disgusting country.

    But the police will get Assange when he leaves the little house he is hiding in. Unless of course they put him in a diplomatic 'bag' and then they will have to wait until he tries to board a plane, but get him they will.

    Aug 16th, 2012 - 07:39 pm 0
  • TroneasOne

    i read that if the UK insists on this position Assange's attorneys will take this to the ICJ.

    Aug 16th, 2012 - 07:57 pm 0
  • Pugol-H

    A purely political move by Ecuador, who clearly don’t share the same concern about the rights of the press in their own country.

    Net effect is Assange is “special renditioned” to the Ecuadorian embassy in London for an indeterminate period. Ecuador feeding him, Britain watching him and the Americans pissing themselves laughing.

    Salman Rushdie has more freedom, and Assange hasn’t even been charged with anything yet, much less start any sentence. That is all still to come, one way or another, sooner or later.

    Some revenge that is.

    Fortunately Britain has little to lose from a dispute with Ecuador, staunch Malvinistas that they are.

    Aug 16th, 2012 - 08:16 pm 0
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