America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally: Former UK Ambassador ~ Craig Murray, Former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan.
I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided – after immense pressure from the Obama administration – to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.
This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries – arguably millennia – of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.
The provisions of the Vienna Convention on the status of diplomatic premises are expressed in deliberately absolute terms. There is no modification or qualification elsewhere in the treaty.
1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter
them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises
of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the
mission or impairment of its dignity.
3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of
transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.
Not even the Chinese government tried to enter the US Embassy to arrest the Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen. Even during the decades of the Cold War, defectors or dissidents were never seized from each other’s embassies. Murder in Samarkand relates in detail my attempts in the British Embassy to help Uzbek dissidents. This terrible breach of international law will result in British Embassies being subject to raids and harassment worldwide.
The government’s calculation is that, unlike Ecuador, Britain is a strong enough power to deter such intrusions. This is yet another symptom of the “might is right” principle in international relations, in the era of the neo-conservative abandonment of the idea of the rule of international law.
The British Government bases its argument on domestic British legislation. But the domestic legislation of a country cannot counter its obligations in international law, unless it chooses to withdraw from them. If the government does not wish to follow the obligations imposed on it by the Vienna Convention, it has the right to resile from it – which would leave British diplomats with no protection worldwide.
I hope to have more information soon on the threats used by the US administration. William Hague had been supporting the move against the concerted advice of his own officials; Ken Clarke has been opposing the move against the advice of his. I gather the decision to act has been taken in Number 10.
There appears to have been no input of any kind from the Liberal Democrats. That opens a wider question – there appears to be no “liberal” impact now in any question of coalition policy. It is amazing how government salaries and privileges and ministerial limousines are worth far more than any belief to these people. I cannot now conceive how I was a member of that party for over thirty years, deluded into a genuine belief that they had principles.
- #wikileaks Uk Ambassador Statement *censored* (occupythebanks.com)
- Can police enter an embassy? A guide (guardian.co.uk)
- Anger at ‘threat to arrest Assange’ (standard.co.uk)
- Ecuador: Britain might nab Assange in embassy (content.usatoday.com)
- Ecuadorian minister releases UK’s Julian Assange ‘threat’ letter (itv.com)
- Julian Assange asylum row puts UK in catch-22 situation (guardian.co.uk)
We Don’t Need No Bloody Treaties: Britain Blows a Fuse over Ecuador’s Asylum Grant to Wikileaks’ Assange (thiscantbehappening.net)
“Already, there are threats in other countries to invade and take over British embassies if Britain makes good on its threat and has police assault the Ecuador embassy. It’s a fair bet that in Latin America, where there is broad support for Ecuador’s principled stand, and where asylum in embassies has a hallowed tradition and has saved many people during coups and dictatorships, it’s a good bet that British embassies would take a heavy beating if Assange is dragged out of Ecuador’s embassy. US embassies too could take a hit, since Latin Americans are acutely aware of America’s role in this affair, and have little love lost for America and its penchant for pushing its weight around. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has called for a meeting of the Organization of American States to address the British threat to his country’s sovereignty.
Odds are that Britain is bluffing, although it has massed police and vans around the Ecuador Embassy building, which, unlike the fort-like US embassies around the world, sits unguarded and unwalled on a street in London, though the question of how or when Assange will be able to escape the embassy and gain safe passage out of Britain and to Ecuador, and whether he could subsequently avoid being kidnapped there and “renditioned” to the US, remains. British supporters of Assange have been putting out calls on social media for people to mass around the embattled embassy to protect it against a police assault. Some have already been arrested doing so there.
What this astonishing incendiary reaction by the British Foreign Office to Assange’s grant of asylum by Ecuador makes abundantly clear is that Assange and his Wikileaks organization are truly feared by Britain and the US. His organization’s ability to expose the war crimes, the war criminals, and the international treachery of these two countries and their allies around the world is one of the biggest threats they face, and they are proving it by their desperate efforts to neutralize or eliminate him.”
“If states want their diplomats given courtesy and respect, they’re obligated to afford similar treatment to foreign representatives on their soil. They’re also bound under international law provisions.
In 1987, Britain’s Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act (DCPA) permits revocation of diplomatic mission status if it “ceases to use land for the purposes of its mission or exclusively for the purposes of a consular post.” It further states doing so must be “permissible under international law.”
The law followed the Libyan London embassy’s 1984 siege. Someone inside the building fatally shot a UK police officer. An 11 day standoff ended with Britain severing diplomatic relations with Libya and expelling its diplomats. Forced entry didn’t occur.
Using DCPA to seize Assange is problematic. Doing so would set a dangerous precedent and place its own diplomats at risk.
DCPA addressed situations involving missions used for serious wrongdoing. Sheltering Assange hardly qualifies. Legitimate courts won’t sanction forced entry. Britain claims it’s duty bound to extradite. Obeying fundamental law takes precedence. So does doing the right thing and not running cover for Washington.
America wants Assange extradited for whistle blowing. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa believes he’ll be imprisoned and may face the death penalty. He’s wrongfully charged.
He published thousands of leaked classified military, intelligence and political documents. Skeptics call him compromised. He collaborated with Western media.
He allied with managed news manipulators. Journalists connected to Washington’s imperium are involved. At issue is whether released information represents truths, half-truths, selected truths, disinformation masquerading as real information, or a combination of all of the above.
Skeptics say material disseminated was out-of-date and of little use. Major secrets remain safe.
Webster Tarpley, Wayne Madsen, Thierry Meyssan, and others call Assange politically connected, a stealth CIA asset, and perhaps used by Mossad the same way. Madsen said monied interests used him. He cited readily recognizable names.
Perhaps Assange was used. Perhaps he knew and cooperated. Now he’s no longer needed. Washington played this game before. Bin Laden is Exhibit A. Enlisted against Soviet Russia in Afghanistan, he became “enemy number one.”
What’s ahead for Assange remains uncertain. He’s far more hero than villain. He deserves better than Washington plans. His leaks were important whether fresh or dated.
He deserves full legal protections, freedom from lawless prosecution, and virtually certain conviction and imprisonment.
What authorities did to Bradley Manning, they plan for Assange in spades. Ecuador wants it prevented. Doing so is heroic and just.”