Hague is preparing the ground for the forcible removal of Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy
Notice the subtle shift in terminology engineered by William Hague in his statement about Assange. “The UK does not accept the principle of diplomatic asylum.” The implication is that Assange is not seeking asylum for political reasons, but to escape criminality. As a criminal, there is ample precedent for physical arrest; and Hague is preparing the ground for the forcible removal of Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy. He adds, “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.”
But there are two points. Assange has not been granted diplomatic asylum, he has been granted political asylum. Hague can play with words as much as he likes; but that’s what Ecuador has offered – political asylum. The UK is most certainly bound by the Vienna Convention. Article 22 states, “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.”
Hague certainly does like to play with words. In further efforts to paint Assange as a criminal, he says, “He faces serious charges in a country with the highest standards of law and where his rights are guaranteed.” This is untrue. Assange faces no charges. He has not been charged, far less convicted for anything. He is wanted for questioning. Assange himself has several times offered to answer questions, provided that the questioning is not used as a means to incarcerate and extradite him. And Ecuador offered to deny political asylum if Sweden would guarantee not to extradite Assange to the US. Sweden declined.
Furthermore, Hague’s comment about ‘rights’ being guaranteed is meaningless. Assange is already extradited (legally, not physically) to Sweden. So UK rights are irrelevant. And for onward extradition to the United States, all that is required is for the US to say it will not execute him. So any rights he might have in Sweden are also meaningless – and we all know he will have no rights in the US. He will be classified as a terrorist and taken out of the civilian judicial system and placed into the military system. After that, all bets are off.
This whole process smells. The extent to which the UK government is dissembling in order to comply with US demands despite – and potentially in direct conflict – with its international legal obligations is demeaning. I have no words. Where is our honour? Where is truth? Where is justice? Flushed away down the sewer of British politics.