Thursday 16 August 2012


ACCORDING to the BBC's Today Programme, the Foreign Office has told Ecuador that Britain has the right, under legislation passed in the 1980s for a one-off purpose only,  and unknown to any of the interviewees on the programme (including the ex ambassador to Moscow), to remove diplomatic status from their London embassy, enter it by force, and arrest Mr Assange.

It is certainly true that Mr Assange is on the run from the English police, having broken the conditions of his bail and "gone abroad" as it were, and that that makes him a criminal in English law. But I wonder if Willie Hague is quite aware of the gravity of what he is considering.

According to the international Conventions on Diplomatic Relations, diplomatic missions are considered to be a part of the territory of a foreign state and cannot be violated by the host state for (almost) any reason.

It seems that Britain, quite rightly in my opinion, introduced law at the time of the siege in the Libyan mission in London, which allowed the SAS to storm the building after Yvonne Fletcher was shot from its windows. That was, however, an example of an embassy building being used for something well out-with the terms of the convention, and thus, arguably, the action was justified.

However, to use it in a situation where someone has sought refuge from what they perceive to be a political use of extradition is surely a error of monumental proportions.

My understanding of the reason that Sweden wishes to charge Assange is that he  allegedly had consensual sex with a Swedish woman, which, at some point became non-consensual, and that this may have involved the use or otherwise of condoms. In any case, it is doubtful that this would be considered a crime in the UK, and it is a question of one persons word against that of another (there only being two people involved in the sex).

Assange fears that he will be further extradited from Sweden to the USA where the authorities want to talk to him about leaking a fair few of their (and the UK's) dirty and embarrassing little secrets.

Whatever the truth of all that is, and aware as I am that everyone who is anyone in London is now on in Tuscany, Monte Carlo or aboard the yachts of Russian oligarchs, I can't imagine that Hague hasn't been briefed that if he does violate the Ecuadorian Embassy, no British diplomat will ever able to do his job again and certainly none will ever be safe again. 

The problem now, it seems to me, is that having indicated that they can do it, it will look like a climb down if Ecuador do not give the man up and the English police do not carry out the FO threat.

Another cock up?


  1. I'm as about bleeding heart a liberal as you can get, but where Assange is concerned, I think that the sooner he's facing the serious charges in Sweden the better.

    Ecuador has no cause to offer him asylum - he is not being persecuted on political grounds, he's been charged with a crime. Asylum isn't there to protect suspected criminals.

    Sweden has one of the fairest justice systems in the world. Ecuador, according to the most recent Amnesty report, locks up people who criticise the Government.

    The law does allow entry into embassies if it's in accordance with international law. I don't think Ecuador should be allowed to get away with abusing the asylum system and potentially letting a rapist go free.

    You didn't seem to think the charges against Assange were particularly important. Surely you would agree that someone can withdraw consent to sex at any time and if the person they're having sex with does not stop, then it's rape. Pure and simple. Similarly, violating conditions like use of condoms is similarly a serious matter, surely? And, finally, what of having sex with someone when they're asleep when they've indicated that they don't want to have contact with you?

    Assange needs to answer for these very serious charges and he's using all sorts of dodgy pretexts to get out of facing justice.

  2. Just to be clear Lindsay, he hasn't been charged with anything under Swedish law. They just want him in Sweden to answer questions on the allegations.

    Sweden may have the fairest legal system in the world but the question is not about the fairness of the Swedish system but about the fairly high chance that he'll end up in the US if he's taken back to Sweden.

    If Assange could guarantee that he'd not be shipped out tout suite in an orange boiler suit to the US I'm sure he'd go back to Sweden but no-one from the Swedish authorities has guaranteed that he won't be.

  3. Cock up???

    Not sure yet Tris.........might I suggest we see what the Equador Government decide to do first.

    I mean advising a state of law is not exactly a cock up.

    However Assange is playing a dangerous game.

    The Equador folks also need to be careful, I mean tha man is wanted on a rape charge. Probably 1 of the most evil crimes about. His arguement being he will be extradited from Sweden to the USA. Well the UK has a treaty with the USA so why did we not extradite him in the first place. As for the speech on collonialism well lets just put that down to ass kissing the Argentina.
    If they grant him asylum they potentially open the door to any other sex crime accused to move there for safety of prosecution. Not a tag I would want on my country.

    Government posture all day every day over 1000's of issues without it ever actually happening......but this is a pop at the Tories and not a pop at the situation hence the title of the post???

    If someone is accused of a crime like that then they must face the due process of excuses.

    This is a mess..... clearly

    But can we clear a fact up re the SAS storming the Embassy. The Lybian embassy as far as I recall was not stormed by the SAS. The Iranian embassy was and indeed after 10 days of seige by the armed division of the Met Police it was resolved by allowing the staff to leave then an official expulsion order given.
    The Iranian storming was carried out by order of MT with permission from the Iranian government to free the hostages.

    If I am wrong please correct me.

    However we must also be aware Assange is an Australian. Not Swedish or British or Amercan but an Aussie. Australia has washed there hands of him, and indeed are considering that action or even repealling his citizenship.

    Say what you want about freedom of speech..........Say what you want about Wikileaks but in this case he is using that argument to cover up an accusation of an evil crime to which me must either pay the price or prove his innocence.

    Maybe our Government showing they have a pair is a refreshing thing????

  4. The whole thing is a bit of a mystery to me Caron.

    As I understand it, the deal is that in Sweden it is illegal to have sex with someone without using a condom. Doing that constitutes a sexual offence. It does not constitute an offence in England, to the best of my knowledge, unless the person concerned has a STD.

    So the whole notion of his being extradited seems dubious to me.

    If it were rape as we understand it, ie forced sex, then of course I would expect him to be extradited.

    The trouble is that where there is some dubiety, and I understand that there is (although my details may be slightly mixed up, coming as they do from something I read on Scot Goes Pop a very long time ago, and cannot find again) Hague could be putting all UK diplomats at great risk, and of course people who seek sanctuary in Britain's embassies likewise.

    Incidentally, removal of consent at any time may mean that some sort of an offence has been committed, but unfortunately, if there are only 2 people there it is very difficult to decide who is telling the truth about if and when consent was removed, and how loudly that was done.

    It really is one persons word against anothers.

  5. There was an interesting comment over on Craig Murray's Blog on the same subject by glenn 16 Aug, 2012 - 11:55 am about the pressure the US must be putting on the UK for them to contemplate this embassy raid.

    If an Australian called Bruce Cobber had holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy to avoid a return to Sweden to face questions on allegations of rape then it wouldn't even show up on the Government's radar.

    However the UK Government is willing to put the entire Vienna Convention treaty to the sword just to get Julian Assange to Sweden.

    I agree with the commenter glenn that it's a pretty much certain that given this pressure from the US he's going to be heading to the States pretty sharpish after arriving in Sweden.

  6. Doug: I know that most stuff in Sweden is fair and decent (oh to be Swedish).

    I've heard many conflicting reports about what happened and what the Swedish police want.

    I think you're quite right about the real fear which is being sent to America to answer charges on letting on to all the embarrassing things that various people said about Blair and Brown and what little creeps they were, thus embarrassing the Americans, who like to keep their opinion of their pet poodles quiet.

    But I wonder if the Americans will be that angry now, after all they have found that it didn't make any differences. The British hierarchy still can't wait to kiss ass regardless of what the POTUS or his SoS has said about them.

    As I say, I'm rather unclear as to what is likely to happen to Assange in Sweden. I'm surprised the Americans didn't just tell the Brits to ship him to Washington sharpish.

  7. Hello TLOTF...long time no see.

    Cock up... probably, after all the London government don't know anything but cock ups do they?

    I wonder how much of a sex criminal Mr Assange is. As I said my understanding was gained from an article James Kelly wrote some time ago on the subject. Unfortunately I can't locate it on his website.

    I don't think that it was rape by our definition.

    As I said above I'mm not sure why Mrs Clinton doesn't simply order Hague to send Mr Assange tout de suite. Another part of the mystery.

    I certainly agree with you that rape is an unpleasant crime, but was it rape?

    And yes, I agree that Ecuador may be opening its doors to sex fiends just the way that London seems to welcome thieving bankers.

    I'm not sure about the Argentinian thing; presumably something to do with Las Malvinas?

    My main concern is that Scots abroad may be detrimentally affected by the fact that embassies and ambassadors and their staff may no longer be safe.

  8. Have to go out now Doug, but I'll look at Craig's post when I get back.

    Doubtless he, knowing the inside and out of the FO and diplomatic law, will have a better handle on it that I do.

  9. And there we have it.
    Just announced he has been given asylum.

    I am off to Adsa to get a cheeky bottle of something and then a sit down and watch the show begin. (other supermarets are available)

  10. Reading into the rape accusation, its not anything like as clear cut as some are reporting it to be. The women involved watched him make a 90 minute speech, organised a party (outside of which one tweeted she [Ardin] was having a great time with 'cool' people) after being 'raped' and/or 'molested'.

    It seems a couple of days went by, the two 'victims' compared notes and bragged about it to each other (this is from police and court records...)

    Also, more tenuously, Anna Ardin, one of the accusers was an equality campaigner at Uppsala Uni and has alleged links with an anti-Castro group funded by the US...

    Muddy waters indeed. As to Hague, entering the embassy in the fashion described would set a pretty calamitous precedent, they still have the gnarly problem of getting him out of the UK.

    Other than that, the tory coalition seem to make a habit of coming out with some fairly blustery stuff, they usually end up back peddling.

    This will be no different.

  11. We that's it Dough. I've read Craig's post. He knows more about this stuff than anyone else I know.

    I'm happy to go with his judgement.

    There are now 126 posts on his site, so I'll read through them tonight.

  12. Thanks for that info Pa.

    With Craig Murry's view point, and his indside information that the UK has been to0ld to do this by Washington, and now your information on the so-called rape charges, I have no doubt that wrongness of what the government in London is doing.

    As usual they have cocked it up.

    Craig reckons that International law is superior, and can only be overwritten by national law if the country wishes to "unsign" the treaty.

    Just when you thought all the excitement was over!!!!

  13. LOTF:

    Any supermarket except Tesco (where the only cheeky thing is the half wit staff)

    And Sainsbury's where they are now selling cash in on the Olympic spirit of Britishness, British Scotch Broth... I kid you not.

    So no more shopping there after I've spent my Nectar points!!!

  14. At Craig Murry's request I have copied his post to the blog.

  15. Since I know nothing about British law governing embassies, I won't venture an opinion on this. But one thing seems odd.

    The Americans will twist as many UK and European arms as necessary in order to get Assange. And they will expect the British government to be as compliant as they usually are when American interests are at stake.

    So why the charade about a Swedish sex charge? Why didn't the Brits just pack him off to Washington? No doubt there was an unmarked CIA plane waiting at Heathrow that they could have used if legal extradition didn't work.

    From what I can gather, the Swedish issue may not involve anything forcible at all. In fact it seems to be a question of whether or not a condom was used in consensual sex.

    And this invites a comment. One reason that the "land of the free" Americans hate the democratic socialist governments of Europe so much, is that they can do things like regulate condom use. (Or in France for another example, regulate certain types of personal hate speech.) This is madness! In spirit, it's the very next thing to Stalinist tyranny in the American view.

    It's the spirit that famously allows the sovereign British Parliament to "make it up as it goes along." You apparently had a shooting at a London embassy back in the 80's and a new law was passed that effects embassies in your country forever.

    Only a written constitution and a Bill of Rights can ever protect you from a Parliament which will always do whatever is popular and convenient at the time. Free peoples have written constitutions which enumerate individual rights. The UK has Parliamentary Sovereignty.

    But off-topic constitutional pontificating aside, the pertinent point here is that you wouldn't get into these messes if you would would just bother to write down the rules before you start trying to govern. IMHO.

  16. bravo Danny.

    You read it as I read it.

    And as Craig Murray points out The Vienna Conventions override any national laws.

    You and I both wonder why Mrs Clinton didn't just phone Cameron and tell him to send Assange or else there would never be another photo-opportunity.

    You make a good point about constitution, which I will address, just as soon as I get home. :)

  17. LOL @ Tris:

    Do get to work on that constitution draft as soon as possible. I suspect that it's too late to help England in this regard, but you can send your draft to First Minister Salmond who will hopefully be needing one after the referendum. :-))

  18. Tris,

    British Scotch Broth..............FFS!!!!!!!

    Although there is an arguement that Haggis was actually English to start with, maybe they are cashing in on that as well.

    They are still upset to find out Yorkshire puddings are French.

  19. Auch Danny, I'll have it done by 8 pm Scottish Summer Time ... if that's not some sort of an oxymoron.

  20. LotF....

    Haggis is English? After all the things they said about it

    Et Pouding du Yorkshire est francais? O la la...

    Les 'rosbifs' mangent les choses francais avec le roast beef

    Ha ha... La fin du monde pour quelques uns parmi eux.

    Anyway, I kid you not. british Scotch Broth.

    Next Glenfiddich will be British Scotch Whisky. Prats!