3:10 PM EST Former Spanish judge and now attorney for Assange Baltasar Garzon tells El Pais, a Spanish newspaper, that UK should abide by its “diplomatic obligations” under the Refugee Convention and let him have safe passage to Ecuador. He suggests the case could be taken to the International Court of Justice if the British government refuses to allow passage. He also criticized the threat to “invade” the embassy, where Assange has now been holed up for nearly two months.
3:07 PM EST WikiLeaks Press now has a non-Google translation of the statement made by Ecuador laying out the foundation of the country’s decision to grant asylum.
3:03 PM EST Threats from UK against Ecuador’s embassy over Julian Assange being granted asylum to be discussed by representatives of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) this weekend.
3:00 PM EST Tweets from the Center for Constitutional Rights:
11:53 PM EST British Foreign Office has issued a statement in response to the decision. Here’s a particularly significant section of the statement:
…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…
11:45 PM EST Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights and also a member of WikiLeaks’ legal team tells Firedoglake that asylum overrides the effort to prosecute Assange for being a journalist of WikiLeaks.
If you’re given asylum because you’ve flown persecution from a place, obviously it’s about they’re going to prosecute you and that’s why you’re given asylum. So, clearly asylum overrides the prosecution.
He also says the “whole purpose of asylum to prevent them from being persecuted for their political opinions.” Why? The law is that he “can’t be sent to persecutors.” UK should not take any action that would lead to political persecution.
12:10 PM EST Note to journalists: Julian Assange has not officially or formally been charged with a crime ever. The Washington Post and other media organizations continue to print deliberate disinformation. It is deliberate because media organizations various countries have been printing corrections throughout the past year (at least). WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, his spokesperson and his legal team have tried to correct the record many, many times. The press keeps inserting “charges” into reports.
So, a tip—All reporters or journalists proofread. Every time you have to write a story on Julian Assange, get into the habit of going back to replace the word “charges” with “allegations.” If you take your commitment to fact-based reporting seriously, this is what you must do.
12:05 PM EST Mark Weisbrot, who has been supportive of the request, writes for The Guardian:
…the UK government made an unprecedented threat to invade Ecuador’s embassy if Assange is not handed over. Such an assault would be so extreme in violating international law and diplomatic conventions that it is difficult to even find an example of a democratic government even making such a threat, let alone carrying it out…
Ecuador’s decision to grant political asylum to Assange was both predictable and reasonable. But it is also a ground-breaking case that has considerable historic significance.
Weisbrot’s column can be read in its entirety here.
11:50 AM EST Andy Greenberg of Forbes on the former UK ambassador who suggests a “raid” of the Ecuador embassy is coming
11:45 AM EST Sweden summons Ecuador ambassador
11:40 AM EST I am scheduled to go on the BBC’s “World Have Your Say” program at 6 pm UK time (that is about 1 pm EST/noon CT).
11:30 AM EST Without being glib, Al Jazeera English outlines some “options” that Assange has now that he has been granted asylum, which include: fleeing to an airport, being designated as a diplomat, using a “diplomatic bag” and remaining indefinitely at the embassy.
11:20 AM EST A BBC home affairs correspondent suggests the following—which is factually incorrect because he has been charged with no crime:
Political asylum is not available to anyone facing a serious non-political crime – such as the allegations levelled against Mr Assange.
But does his new status mean he can now leave his Swedish problems behind? No. Asylum does not equal immunity from prosecution – and Julian Assange needs safe passage through UK territory that he won’t get.
Mr Assange knows he can’t leave without risking arrest by officers waiting outside. The police can’t enter the embassy unless the government revokes its status.
11:00 AM EST Juan Cole’s fine column on “Ayatollah Cameron” threatening to “invade” the Ecuador embassy over Assange
10:45 AM EST WikiLeaks lawyer Michael Ratner appeared on “Democracy Now!” to react to the announcement. In the segment (below), he says, “The British ought to just back off and the US ought to just back off.” And adds, “For the British to say that they are going to go in to the embassy to get someone who has been granted asylum, would turn the refugee convention on asylum completely on its head. … [Assange] has the right to leave that embassy, get on the plane and go to Ecuador. That’s the law.”
10:35 AM EST Here’s the New York Times coverage of the announcement. The Times reports the British Foreign Office was “disappointed by the Ecuadorean announcement but remained committed to a negotiated outcome to the standoff.” The Times also decides to rehash details from the feud between former WikiLeaks staff member Daniel Domscheit-Berg and Assange:
Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who ran WikiLeaks with Mr. Assange until the two had a falling-out in 2010, accused Mr. Assange in a memoir of staying for several months, uninvited, and of abusing his cat.
In an interview with The New York Times in early 2011, Mr. Domscheit-Berg added that Mr. Assange had refused to flush the toilet during his entire stay. Mr. Assange has countered that Mr. Domscheit-Berg, and others who have given personal accounts along these lines, are motivated by malice.
No real assessment of how astounding it is that the UK would threaten Ecuador with entering the country’s embassy to arrest Assange. Just a recycling of all the talking points that typically come from people who only have condescending viewpoints to offer on Assange.
10:30 AM EST Ecuador President Rafael Correa said on Twitter as the decision was about to be announced that no country would be allowed to scare the country.
10:25 AM EST Here’s Assange on June 24 indicating he would likely go to Sweden to face questioning if diplomatic guarantees were offered that he would not be handed over to the United States.
9:45 AM EST Center for Constitutional Rights applauds Ecuador’s decision:
We applaud Ecuador for granting asylum to Julian Assange. Ecuador’s action rightly offers protection to a journalist and publisher who faces persecution from the U.S. It thereby strengthens the global commitment to human rights, including government accountability and freedom of the press. We hope that Assange’s contributions to a robust democratic society are belatedly recognized by the U.S., which prides itself in its commitment to a free press.
Granting asylum is a humanitarian act and the UN General Assembly has unanimously declared that it should not be construed as unfriendly by other countries. The U.S., Sweden and the U.K. have adopted and reiterated this very principle many times. It is imperative, therefore, that no diplomatic consequences should befall Ecuador over this decision.
We are deeply troubled by the reported U.K. threats to storm the Ecuadoran Embassy and arrest Assange, in clear violation of the Vienna Convention’s protection of the inviolability of sovereign embassy properties, and by the menacing police presence outside the embassy. We call on the British government to explicitly and immediately confirm that it will honor international and diplomatic commitments.
9:40 AM EST Full report now posted on the announced decision. It includes the critical points Ecuador made to support the decision and all the treaties, conventions and principles of international law (in addition to domestic law in Ecuador), which give the country the right to grant Julian Assange refugee status.
9:03 AM EST Ecuador, after providing a detailed background on the decision, stated:
…the Government of Ecuador, true to its tradition of protecting those who seek refuge in its territory or on the premises of diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to citizen’s Assange, based on the application submitted to the President of the Republic, by written communication, dated London, June 19, 2012, and supplemented by letter dated at London on June 25, 2012, for which the Government of Ecuador, after a fair and objective assessment of the situation described by Mr. Assange, according to their own words and arguments, endorsed the fears of the appellant, and assumes that there are indications that it may be presumed that there may be political persecution, or could occur such persecution if measures are not taken timely and necessary to avoid it…
The Ecuador government then added its hope that the British government will “value” the “justice and righteousness” Ecuador’s position and offer “safe passage guarantees necessary and relevant to the refugee situation” as soon as possible. Ecuador also pledged to maintain “excellent ties of friendship and mutual respect.” So, Ecuador does not wish for this to precipitate diplomatic crisis nor does it think there is any reason that the UK should make this a crisis.
9:00 AM EST In Spanish, here is what appears to be the full statement that was just delivered by Ecuador on the decision to grant asylum.
8:45 AM EST The official announcement has been delivered. Assange is granted political asylum in Ecuador.
8:37 AM EST Patino is describing what Ecuador did prior to the decision. High-level diplomatic talks were held with the United Kingdom, Sweden and the US. Sweden was approached and asked to ensure there’d be an open legal process if Assange were to be extradited.
8:33 AM EST RT is streaming the announcement with English translation here.
8:30 AM EST Foreign Minister says Assange will not have fair trial if he goes to US. “Ecuador is a free and democratic state not subject to external tutelage,” he said.
8:25 AM EST Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino is delivering Ecuador’s announcement on decision right now. Patino is making clear Ecuador is a sovereign country. The threat the UK made against Ecuador is something the country takes seriously. He adds, ”
8:10 AM EST Here’s a photo from Bianca Jagger of the police arresting Julian Assange supporters over the past few hours:
The country of Ecuador is about to make an announcement on whether to grant WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange’s asylum request. Rumors on what that decision will be have been announced, but Ecuador President Rafael Correa and Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino have not made any official statements on a final decision.
In the late afternoon, Ecuador foreign minister Ricardo Patino made a stunning allegation during a press conference in Ecuador. He claimed the British government had threatened Ecuador over WikiLeaks founder & editor-in-chief Julian Assange, who has sought political asylum from the country and been holed up in the embassy for over fifty days.
The Ecuador government released a letter containing this “threat.” The letter suggested that under the UK Diplomatic & Consular Premises Act of 1987 it could revoke the diplomatic immunity that the Ecuador embassy in London enjoys. This would make it possible for UK authorities to storm the embassy and force Ecuador to hand over Assange. To this, Patino declared, “We’re not a British colony. UK threat to storm embassy would be hostile and force us to respond.”
The UK government said in response to this allegation, “We have an obligation to extradite Mr Assange and it is only right that we give Ecuador the full picture,” and, “We are still committed to reaching a mutually acceptable solution.” The Ecuador embassy in London issued a statement, “We are deeply shocked by British government’s threats against the sovereignty of the Ecuadorian Embassy and their suggestion that they may forcibly enter the embassy.” And, “Instead of threatening violence against the Ecuadorian Embassy the British Government should use its energy to find a peaceful resolution to this situation which we are aiming to achieve.”
Ecuador called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) and Union of South American Nations to discuss this “threat” against a Latin American country’s embassy by the UK. A handful supporters gathered outside the embassy late in the night. Metropolitan police began to intensify their presence around the embassy and moved police vans up to the side entrance. A couple officers were stationed at the embassy entrance as well.
For yesterday’s complete live blog on the standoff, go here.
Firedoglake will now be live blogging developments on the announcement, which is expected to be presented at 7 am Ecuador time. That means the announcement can be expected about 8 am ET/7 am CT (United States).