Assange: UK threatens to storm Ecuador embassy


blog The UK Government has reportedly threatened to send law enforcement resources into Ecuador’s embassy in London to retrieve Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, as the stakes and tension regarding the Australian citizen’s legal situation in the country continue to rise day by day. The Guardian newspaper in the UK reports a letter was delivered by the UK Government to the Ecuadorian Government in its home country:

The letter said: “You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the UK, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the embassy.” It added: “We need to reiterate that we consider the continued use of the diplomatic premises in this way incompatible with the Vienna convention and unsustainable and we have made clear the serious implications that this has for our diplomatic relations.”

The move appears to have surprised legal experts. Australian National University law professor Don Rothwell told ABC Breakfast this morning the threat is without precedent: “I’m not aware of any precedent in relation to this type of matter, and at face value it seems to be a fairly extraordinary threat that the British government is making against the government of Ecuador,” he said. “It clearly indicates how serious the UK is taking the Assange matter.”

I think it’s safe to say that if the UK Government does decide to bash in the Ecuadorian embassy’s door, it will heighten the impression of many observing proceedings that there is in fact a conspiracy to get Assange to Sweden, where he can be more easily extradited to face an alleged secret grand jury in the United States.

Update: Wikileaks has just released this statement regarding the current situation:

In a communication this morning to the government of Ecuador, the UK threatened to forcefully enter the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrest Julian Assange. The UK claims the power to do so under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987. This claim is without basis.

By midnight, two hours prior to the time of this announcement, the embassy had been surrounded by police, in a menacing show of force. Any transgression against the sanctity of the embassy is a unilateral and shameful act, and a violation of the Vienna Convention, which protects embassies worldwide. This threat is designed to preempt Ecuador’s imminent decision on whether it will grant Julian Assange political asylum, and to bully Ecuador into a decision that is agreeable to the United Kingdom and its allies.

WikiLeaks condemns in the strongest possible terms the UK’s resort to intimidation. A threat of this nature is a hostile and extreme act, which is not proportionate to the circumstances, and an unprecedented assault on the rights of asylum seekers worldwide. We draw attention to the fact that the United Nations General Assembly has unanimously declared in Resolution 2312 (1967) that “the grant of asylum. . . is a peaceful and humanitarian act and that, as such, it cannot be regarded as unfriendly by any other State.”

Pursuant to this resolution, a decision to grant asylum cannot be construed by another State as an unfriendly act. Neither can there be diplomatic consequences for granting asylum. We remind the public that these extraordinary actions are being taken to detain a man who has not been charged with any crime in any country.

WikiLeaks joins the Government of Ecuador in urging the UK to resolve this situation according to peaceful norms of conduct. We further urge the UK government to show restraint, and to consider the dire ramifications of any violation of the elementary norms of international law. We ask that the UK respect Ecuador’s sovereign right to deliver a decision of its own making on Julian Assange’s asylum bid. Noting that Ecuador has called for emergency summits of OAS and UNASUR in response to this development, WikiLeaks asks those bodies to support Ecuador’s rights in this matter, and to oppose any attempts to coerce a decision.

We note with interest that this development coincides with the UK Secretary of State William Hague’s assumption of executive responsibilities during the vacation of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Mr Hague’s department, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has overseen the negotiations to date with Ecuador in the matter of Mr Assange’s asylum bid. If Mr Hague has, as would be expected, approved this decision, WikiLeaks calls for his immediate resignation.

Image credit: New Media Days, Creative Commons


  1. Shame on our gov who’d do anything to keep its allies happy (including abandoning its own citizens). We’re becoming more of a US puppet than we’ve ever been… Don’t shoot the messenger Julia, open your eyes, seek the truth, and try to fix the damage you’ve already caused instead of sweeping it under the carpet and act as if nothing has happened.

    Our gov would run the globe back and forth for a citizen busted with drugs so it can polish its support for what they call “Human Rights” in front of the world, but they won’t even dare to announce a support speech to those who fought and always will fight for the Real Human Rights.

    Shame on our gov…

    • I fully agree. What a disgraceful, toadying performance by the Australian government.

  2. What a disgusting country. UK really is more of a stinkpile than the USA.

    • I wouldn’t go that far. Consider what would be happening right now if Julian Assange was in the USA. It wouldn’t be pretty.

      • Maybe you are right but I’m finding myself more appalled at the UK lately. Photographers cant take photos without being questioned, CCTV cameras everywhere, nanny state total. Missiles on roofs during the Olympics. Their overzealous attitude to appease the USA like a puppy dog to me is more pathetic than the USA themselves.

    • It’s certainly a distinct shift from the attitudes been shared a few weeks ago with the Olympics.

  3. Good lord, first we have the US making an “internet superhero” out of the fairly odious Kim Dotcom, now the UK is making Ecuador look like a positive champion of human rights. Whats next, is Aus going to be responsible for the sainthood of Frank Bainimarama?

    Lack of thought all round.

  4. ” think it’s safe to say that if the UK Government does decide to bash in the Ecuadorian embassy’s door, it will heighten the impression of many observing proceedings that there is in fact a conspiracy to get Assange to Sweden, where he can be more easily extradited to face an alleged secret grand jury in the United States.”

    Truer words have never been spoken. To storm/invade/etc a foreign embassy all for an ‘alleged’ rapest who is wanted for extradition for none other than questioning seems a major over reaction. Obviously there are major powers at work here that are calling shots that relate to issues well beyond the questioning in Sweden.

  5. This came from the mouth of the Equadorian foreign minster.
    It would be unprecedented and as such I don’t quite believe it….. yet.
    Wait to see what happens when day breaks in the UK, and we might get some kind of UK government response to these accusations.

  6. I am confused why this is on delimiter. This is not tech related, have I missed something?

    • Wikileaks is not tech related?

      Seems an odd statement.

      I am not a fan of Assange the man, tho I support wikileaks.

      This guff is ridiculous and I told call shame shame shame on the Australian government for not supporting a citizen.

      I blame Howard for brown nosing us into the yanks backpocket, and Julia for keeping us there. At least Ruddie didn’t roll over for them.

    • “I am confused why this is on delimiter. This is not tech related, have I missed something?”

      I have debated this issue myself and changed my views on it several times. But the reality is that most of the readers do consider it tech-related and are interested in major news regarding Assange particularly, as he’s an Australian citizen, so I do write the odd article about it when there’s a major development. I may change my view on it, and I don’t report the minute by minute stuff, but I do do the major pieces when there is big news. If enough people complain I’ll change my view.

      • No, keep them coming. It is tech-related, it’s just that the technology is so disruptive that the discussion has spilt over into world politics. It’s interesting to see what happens when you use the power of the internet to free information that people don’t want to be public. Some tech entrepreneurs may be looking at Assange and thinking of other ways to use technology to keep power checked. The quality of discussion and respect commenter’s have for each other is quite high too (the opposite of YouTube).

  7. Can you imagine the international outcry if Ecuadorian police were surrounding the British Embassy In Quito?
    Whoever is inside the emabassy, this behaviour is disgraceful.

  8. It’s an attitude typical of the pirates, corsairs and buccaneers. UK showing its true face.

    • I would say a diplomatic crate as this is the only way/thing that can’t be touched, opened, or disturbed from the time it leaves the embassy to the time it gets to the Ecuador.
      Although the law said only documents could be transferred by a crates, but we’ve seen drugs, weapons, and all other sort of things being transferred this way over the years.
      By car could be dangerous as he CAN get arrested on the way to the car, also on the way from the car to the plane. The car could be stopped on its way (but can’t be opened or searched).
      A diplomatic bag to be given to Assange could be a solution too, as this will give him the diplomatic protection, not sure though if the UK has to agree (by law) on this bag.
      Regardless, I so hope he makes it there as we’ve slept last night on one of the biggest win for freedom in years, and the dawn of freedom/change has just begun…

  9. The UK threat is hilarious. “Our law trumps international law”. What?

    Really, the UK needs to think very carefully about its gains and losses here. Australia has washed its hands of its citizen. The British government has been trying very hard to keep the US happy, but should at this point say “we did our best, we’re rolling over on this one”.

    Of course, the British could very easily resolve it by confirming that it would block any move by the US to extradite him from Sweden.

  10. I want to see a riot where 10,000 + really pissed off people turn up to beat all the cops up and trash parliament….. and to free the man.

    Time for public warefare.

  11. Funny the anger at the UK in this topic.
    As Geoffrey Robertson QC (and Assange supporter) pointed out yesterday, Equador is somewhat of a latecomer to the concept of human rights and freedom of speech. Equador recently jailed it’s own journalists who dared to criticise their government.
    Don’t see this as anything more than a political game, and Assange is a pawn. Equador wants to rail against the US, and be publicly seen to do so like many other nations in South America.
    I’m ambivalent about Assange. By all accounts he seems to be a flawed individual. Both The Swedes and The Brits are acting perfectly normally in regards to their laws.
    I would support Australia pressuring Sweden to come to some kind of compromise arrangement to sort out Assange’s problem in Swedish law. perhaps by sending a prosecution team to London. As a Brit I would also support that.
    Again, as Robertson said yesterday, almost all fair minded people want to see Assange ‘face down’ these accusations in Swedish law, one way or another.

    • Obviously it’s a slippery slope when you start arresting journalists, however I think just stating it in that way makes it sound like the intentions behind it were against the public interest. Watch Assange’s interview with Rafael Correa at, he makes some good well reasoned points and does seem to have the public interest at heart in doing all your mentioned. He also states that 1/3 of the media should be privately owned, 1/3 of it should be non profit, and 1/3 of it should be state run. I think that plan makes sense and it stops the media getting out of control with self interest and being corrupted like it is in some western countries (including Australia to a degree).

      I mean, do you really think Assange, who many consider to be the worldwide promoter and driver of free speech and information would want to trash his name by going to a country like the one you described in your comment? I think you’ll find it’s mainly Assange’s critics who are bad mouthing Ecuador which is hardly surprising.

      I agree though, one way or another I want Assange to face the accusations and attempt to prove in a fair way that he is innocent. He just can’t do it at the moment with the US breathing down his neck.

      • Dylan purleese.
        Assange is looking for safe harbour, simple as that.
        Nothing against the guy, but his own eminent QC has pointed out Equador is NOT, I repeat NOT a bastion of free speech.
        Also, Assange joined forces with Russian TV to launch his interview series. Another nation heading down the road of dictatorship and intimidation of journalists and curtailing of free speech.
        Fair is fair, neither Assange’s connections with Equador or Russia stack up in terms of freedom of speech.

        • There is no freedom of speech, not even here in Australia… If the T.V channel doesn’t walk the walk with the gov it won’t get the support from that gov, and the results could be a disaster as no licensing will be passed and the tax watch dog will make sure you suffer with each $1 you make.
          Assange had no choice but to go and apply to the Ecuador and speak through the Russian T.V, his own country (which some consider democratic) won’t give him his least rights as a citizen, and the Australian T.V Are so scared of this gov (which some think it supports free speech) to publish Assange’s interviews.
          Whichever way you look at it, democracy now is a modernalized version of the Mid Evil era where the gov has sadly replaced the church.

          • I couldn’t disagree more. Assange is a hypocrite, simple as that.
            Wikileaks partnered most of the best press outlets on the planet, The NY Times and Guardian for example. He wasn’t stopped.
            Now he’s using state controlled Russian TV, while Putin crushes all opposition, and lives in the Equadorian Embassy, while Equador puts critical newspaper editors behind bars. Talking of critical thinking, some of you need to apply some more critical thinking to Assange. His message is good, I agreed with much of his statement overnight, but his actions are both flawed and self centred.

          • “Australian T.V Are so scared of this gov (which some think it supports free speech) to publish Assange’s interviews.”

            Nonsense, Australian TV are always showing Assange having his say. Only a week ago 4 Corners devoted a whole hour to Assange and basically supported his version of events regarding Sweden.

          • Even better, calling australian media scared of the government. That is the most laughable statement I have ever heard.

            Clearly Anonympire hasn’t read a single article on Delimiter that references the Australian media. Ever.

          • I did not say the “Media”, I specifically said the T.Vs. Internet is our only way of expressing our feeling and saying what we think in a real democratic way. Govs around the world are trying their best to change it though!

          • Agree! Some channels still hold some very good programs eg: “The Bolt”.
            Although they do criticize the gov and their actions (to a limit), but the ideology behind what’s happening around the world, not only in Australia, is a “Don’t even try to go there” censorship. On a global scale, we only watch what seems to suite our gov and its allies around the world, censoring the big picture and cropping it to show what suites their campaign. I might be wrong and the T.V might not be scared of the gov, or limited to what can/can’t be published, but it’s also impossible to have all T.Vs/reporters agreeing on the same ideology.

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