Rumours that Julian Assange has been granted political asylum in Ecuador
15 Wednesday Aug 2012
The Guardian has reported that an unnamed official has confirmed that Ecuador will grant political asylum to Julian Assange.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision in May that a public prosecutor was a “judicial authority” within the meaning of the Extradition Act 2003, Pt 1 and that Assange’s extradition to Sweden to face an investigation into alleged offences of sexual misconduct and rape could go ahead, his counsel applied to re-open the appeal on the grounds that his legal team had not had the opportunity to challenge the applicability of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. After this application was dismissed Assange breached his £200,000 bail to seek asylum and diplomatic sanctuary at Ecuador’s embassy in London.
Although there are rumours that Ecuador has confirmed it will offer asylum to Assange, the Daily Telegraph has reported that officials are keen to quash these rumours:
“No decision has been made. The President made clear in an interview yesterday that he was meeting with officials tomorrow, including the Government’s legal team, to assess the application by Mr Assange in the context of domestic Ecuadorian law and international human rights protocols.
“Reports that a decision has been reached are premature and it seems the result of over enthusiastic journalists short on facts but high on speculation.”
The WikiLeaks figurehead has been staying in the embassy since June, and faces immediate arrest under the Bail Act if he leaves the building. This conspicuous problem would be a major stumbling block if Assange has indeed been granted asylum and intended to travel to Ecuador.
Julian Knowles QC, an extradition specialist speaking to Radio 4, described the situation as uncharted and put forward the possibility that Assange could be put into a diplomatic car, leaving it for the Metropolitan Police to decide whether they intend to provoke an international incident by stopping and entering a diplomatic car to arrest him. However he also argues that the decision to grant asylum in itself would trigger diplomatic fallout and is a “mischievous interpretation of refugee law”.