- Arkansas voter ID law struck down by state judge
- FDA proposes ban on e-cigarette sales to minors
- Bad omen? Italian man crushed to death by John Paul II crucifix
- Company stopped from accepting abortion waste
- Girl surprises Michelle Obama with unemployed dad’s resume
- ‘Harry Potter’ religion class seeks to enlighten students on ‘God, sin, and theodicy’
- ‘Optionally piloted’ Black Hawk helicopter clears tests; future missions to go ‘fully unmanned’
- Vice News reporter kidnapped in Ukraine is freed after being beaten, blindfolded
- FCC’s new ‘net neutrality’ proposal sparks outrage among consumer advocates
- Families of ferry’s lost confront South Korean officials
In U.K. threat to Ecuador regarding Assange, experts see mistake
LONDON (AP) — It was a warning meant to remind Ecuador that Britain’s patience has limits. But as the stalemate over Julian Assange settled, it appeared London’s veiled threat that it could storm Ecuador's embassy and drag Assange out has backfired — drawing supporters to the mission where the WikiLeaks founder is holed up and prompting angry denunciations from Ecuador and elsewhere.
Experts and ex-diplomats say Britain’s Foreign Office, which warned Ecuador of a little known law that would allow it to side-step usual diplomatic protocols, messed up by issuing a threat it couldn’t back up.
Britain’s warning was carried in a set of notes delivered to Ecuadorean diplomats Wednesday as they tried to negotiate an agreement over Assange, who has spent nearly two months holed up at the Latin American nation’s London mission in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he’s wanted over allegations of sexual assault.
The notes, published by Britain on Thursday, said ominously that keeping Assange at the embassy was incompatible with international law. They added: “You should be aware that there is a legal basis in the U.K. — the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act — which would allow us to take action to arrest Mr. Assange in the current premises of the embassy.”
Britain passed the law in 1987, after a deadly shooting in 1984 in which a Libyan diplomat opened fire on demonstrators from within his country’s London embassy, killing a British police officer.
The Ecuadoreans were outraged by the notes, accusing Britain of threatening to assault their embassy and calling a crisis meeting of the Union of South American Nations. The ripples from the controversy continued to spread Friday, with Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying in a brief message posted to Twitter that the issue raised questions about diplomatic protections.
Britain’s Foreign Office insists its missive was “not a threat,” something that Miles dismissed with a laugh.
“If I tell you, ‘I’m not threatening you but I DO have a very large stick here,’ it’s a question of semantics,” he said.
Assange, who has been holed up inside Ecuador’s small embassy since June 19, claims the Swedish case is merely the opening gambit in a Washington-orchestrated plot to make him stand trial in the United States — something disputed by both Swedish authorities and the women involved.
“I am not in agreement with everything that Julian Assange has done but does that mean he deserves the death penalty, life in prison, to be extradited to a third country? Please! Where is the proportionality between the crime and the punishment? Where is due process?” Correa said.
Correa insisted that his nation was not seeking to undermine Sweden’s attempts to question Assange over allegations made by two women who accuse him of sexual misconduct during a visit to the country in mid-2010.
“The main reason why Julian Assange was given diplomatic asylum was because his extradition to a third country was not guaranteed, in no way was it done to interrupt the investigations of Swedish justice over an alleged crime. In no way,” Correa said.
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
Only IRS employees could expect rewards for failing to pay their taxes
- Holder cancels appearance in OKC amid angry protests
- In its hunt for Senate, Republican candidates campaign against Harry Reid
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Obamacare class-action suit opens a new legal front
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Sold out: Ukraine's leadership swapped best military weapons for cash
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
- Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball
- Nevada rancher's racial remarks cost him range of support
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014