How Will Julian Assange Get Out of the Embassy?

Some experts weigh in with some possibilities on how Julian Assange will get out of the Ecuadoran Embassy in London and whether Britain would revoke Ecaudor's status under a little if ever used law and go in and seize him.

Among the possibilities being discussed: Having him escape in an oversized diplomatic bag or crate. another one:

Ecuador could name Assange its representative to the United Nations. That would make him immune from arrest while traveling to U.N. meetings around the world. Assange could be stripped of his role as representative by the U.N. General Assembly, but in the meantime would be protected.

The diplomatic luggage has been used before:

In 1984, Britain refused to extradite Umaru Dikko, a former Nigerian government minister accused of corruption in his homeland. He was subsequently kidnapped outside his London home, drugged and stuffed in a shipping crate destined for Lagos as diplomatic luggage.

It didn't work because the kidnappers didn't label the crate as diplomatic.

As to the obscure law:

The Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987... gives Britain the power to revoke the status of a diplomatic mission if the state in question "ceases to use land for the purposes of its mission or exclusively for the purposes of a consular post" — but only if such a move is "permissible under international law."

Although Britain referred to the law in a letter to Ecuador today, experts say it's doubtful that would be used or that it would be an appropriate use of the law.

The law was intended for situations in which a diplomatic mission was being used for serious wrongdoing such as terrorism. Sheltering Assange hardly compares.

Former government lawyer Carl Gardner said a court would likely rule that using the law against Assange would be inconsistent with the intent of the law.

Wikileaks says Assange is scheduled to make a statement in front of the Embassy Sunday.

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    Surely the Vienna Convention (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Peter G on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 11:01:15 PM EST
    assures not only the security of the Embassy and its personnel but also safe passage to and from the Embassy to the border, or to an airport or seaport.  How could it not? I haven't looked it up, but come on, isn't that logically necessary?  It must.

    Articles 26 and 40 (none / 0) (#2)
    by Andreas on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 11:23:28 PM EST

    They don't seem to apply (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 11:35:55 PM EST
    Article 26 applies to the diplomatic agent and "members of the mission." "Members of the Mission" are defined.
    Assange isn't one.

    (b) the "members of the mission" are the head of the mission and the members of the staff of the mission;

    Article 40 pertains to diplomatic agents, also defined, and to:

    passage of members of the administrative and technical or service staff of a mission, and of members of their families through their territories

    That's why I suggested they employ him, but as of now, he's not staff.


    Can't just "employ" him (none / 0) (#21)
    by Travener on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 01:20:26 PM EST
    The host country (UK) is the one that grants diplomatic immunity by first accepting (accrediting) the foreign dipomat. You can't just appoint someone to be your rep in another country; that country has to give its OK. Plus, there are varying levels of diplomatic immunity and they don't necessarily apply to "technical and administrative" staff.

    Point is, Assange is stuck unless Brits OK some kind of resolution.


    Vienna Convention (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 11:31:03 PM EST
    is here:

    Article 22

    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.

    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.

    Article 27

    3- The diplomatic bag shall not be opened or detained.

    4- The packages constituting the diplomatic bag must bear visible external marks of their character and may contain only diplomatic documents or articles intended for official use.

    5- The diplomatic courier, who shall be provided with an official document indicating his status and the number of packages constituting the diplomatic bag, shall be protected by the receiving State in the performance of his     functions. He shall enjoy personal inviolability and shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention.

    6- The sending State or the mission may designate diplomatic couriers ad hoc. In such cases the provisions of paragraph 5 of this Article shall also apply, except that the immunities therein mentioned shall cease to apply when such a courier has delivered to the consignee the diplomatic bag in his charge.

    Maybe Ecuador could make Assange a diplomatic courier. Or they could make him a servant, or if Ecaudor has a female Diplomatic Agent, she could marry him.


    Perhaps Ecuador (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:22:09 AM EST
    wishes to put its thumb in England's eye.

    Works for me.

    Now let's see if England recalls her ambassador from Ecuador and has the Ecuadorian embassy closed in England.

    That would be fun too.

    How (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by lentinel on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 09:57:31 AM EST
    about landing a helicopter on the roof of the Embassy?
    Assange could get in and be on his way.

    Of course, there is always the chance, a probability I suppose, that Her Majesty's Air Force would shoot it down. Or force it down and pounce.

    I think of those old prison movies - people being snuck out in laundry baskets - coffins - disguised as an official... etc.

    To me, this is an obviously political move on the part of the US to force Assange into the waiting embrace of the American justice system where he would face 40 years in prison or the death penalty for the crime of letting us know what our government is doing.

    As I understand it, Assange would be willing to face charges in Sweden if they would agree not to let him be extradited to the US. The Swedes are non-committal on the subject, so Assange has little choice but to flee.

    I hope he makes it out to a place of safety.

    (I hope the same for Bradley Manning who faces life in prison for letting us in on the Baghdad helicopter "Collateral murder" video - a video which is hair-raising.)


    The Problem is the Embassy... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 12:13:52 PM EST
    ...is basically an apartment building, so no helipad.  This article has the only good pic I can find.  Google Maps of the building.

    They are saying the Assange hasn't seen light since he got there, so I assume no roof access, and judging from the vehicle traffic, it doesn't even appear to have a garage.  He's sleeping on an air mattress in someone's office.  I can't find the link, but I read that Ecuador only occupies a couple offices in the building, basically renting space from the Colombian embassy.

    Smuggling him out would be very obvious.  And Britain has put itself in a position that it can't really let an obvious smuggling operation go without intervening.

    Cardinal József Mindszenty was granted Asylum by America in Budapest, he spent 15 years in the US Embassy until they finally negotiated his safe exile to Austria.


    Yikes (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by lentinel on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 01:05:52 PM EST
    15 years on an air mattress?

    I was thinking that the energy to persecute and incarcerate Assange on the part of the "democracies" - and the Russian impulse to persecute and imprison those three protesters in Russia stems from the very same repressive impulse.

    As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us".


    Not Much Better... (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 04:39:19 PM EST
    ...than a US prison is it ?

    Russia, while harsh was done by the law.

    This is international game playing and I think it's pretty sad just how dubious we have become.  Why didn't we try and extradite him, death penalty ?

    Maybe I am way off, but it seems like we are going to some very shady lengths to ensure we will be able to fry the guy if found guilty.  And his assertion that the US has some secret charges already filed certainly fits our MO since 9/11.

    And where is our Secretary of State and President denying the allegations that we are behind this ?  Their personal embarrassment is turning into our countries shame.


    How about naming Assange as (none / 0) (#5)
    by observed on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 12:07:36 AM EST
    Ecuador's Ambassador to the UK.

    Won't work (none / 0) (#17)
    by Travener on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 12:13:11 AM EST
    The UK (as do all countries) has to give its approval to anyone another country wishes to send to it as ambassador.

    Tilda Swinton could run out of the embassy (none / 0) (#6)
    by SuzieTampa on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 01:36:06 AM EST
    drawing away the police and protesters. See Tilda here.

    Assange could then escape, dressed as a woman wearing a "Got consent?" T-shirt.

    Perhaps a summer internship*... (none / 0) (#7)
    by unitron on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 02:06:38 AM EST
    ...at a post that gives him Ecuadoran diplomatic immunity, and then they could transfer him to the embassy in Sweden, where the Swedish police ("we just want to talk to him") can interview him, as required by their law, inside Swedish borders.

    *that way they don't have to actually pay him and he's not entited to any perks or bennies.

    I guess it's too late to put him on the (none / 0) (#8)
    by ruffian on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 06:55:15 AM EST
    Ecuadorian Olympic team. Would have been a great scene in a thriller with him participating in the closing ceremonies and then escaping the stadium, like a one man family Von Trapp.

    Climb Every Mountain, Julian! (none / 0) (#9)
    by ruffian on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 06:56:30 AM EST
    Here's an idea (none / 0) (#14)
    by citizenjeff on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 01:24:11 PM EST
    Set up an enclosed canopy or tent-like structure between the front door and the street. Then send a large caravan (20+ cars, all with blackened windows) to the embassy, and then have the cars depart in various directions. Maybe Assange is in this car. Or is it that one? Or is it this one?

    frankly, britain was stupid to even (none / 0) (#16)
    by cpinva on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 05:04:34 PM EST
    mention the law to begin with. whoever thought the letter was a good idea should be immediately fired.

    ok, a question:

    what's to stop the embassy from bringing in a helicoptor, loading assange in it, and flying him off to paris? from there, they put him, with diplomatic credentials, on a 767 bound for ecuador. i'm pretty certain britain wouldn't shoot the chopper down, as that would be a PR nightmare.

    this is so simple, i'm certain there are myriad problems with it, i'm just not well versed in law to know what they are.

    First, the building has no place to land (none / 0) (#19)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 07:22:18 AM EST
    a helicopter.

    Secondly, as soon as he walks out the door he is on British soil and they cam arrest him.


    He would then be arrested by France (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by bmaz on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 11:06:35 AM EST
    It is an EU and Interpol Red Notice.  Assange is going nowhere, but will have a comfy room at the embassy.

    Maybe (none / 0) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 09:10:21 PM EST
    I have no love either way. He may have done some good but the damage he did is worse.

    What to do in the US ? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Andreas on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 02:27:09 AM EST
    The center of the activities against Julian Assange is the "administration" headed by the terrorist Barack Obama.

    Defending Julian therefore is impossible without taking up the struggle against the despotic and criminal regime in the US.

    As the WSWS states:

    The persecution of Assange being orchestrated by the US has united a gang of cutthroats, thieves and professional liars. They are collectively the political representatives of an oligarchy whose fabulous wealth is coined from the blood, sweat and tears of countless millions throughout the world.

    The defence of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks requires the independent political mobilisation of workers and young people against the offensive being waged by the ruling class and all its political defenders. Such a fight must be based on a socialist perspective, aimed at establishing workers' governments committed to the reorganisation of society on the basis of social equality, freedom and genuine democracy.

    Imperialist lawlessness and the witch-hunt against Julian Assange
    By Chris Marsden and Barry Grey, 18 August 2012

    That's nice (none / 0) (#23)
    by Socraticsilence on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 09:35:21 PM EST
    do you have anything from someone who wouldn't consider standard actions from a nation state terrorism?