By John Millington
Just when you thought things could get no more complicated in this long running saga, they do.
The Ecuadorian embassy where Assange is held up were due to give a verdict on whether they would grant his political asylum claim.
However in a diplomatic bomb drop, the British government informs (threatens) the Ecuadorians that they will revoke their embassy’s status as an embassy, there by bringing the building under the jurisdiction of Britain and allowing police to go in and take Mr. Assange by force.
Before dealing with this it is worth noting that Mr. Assange faces some extremely serious allegations of rape against two Swedish women in Sweden.
Regardless of the current diplomatic row and wider politics, many will want to see those charges answered in a fair trial.
However the problem is Assange is the founder of Wikileaks who have become a thorn in the side of the US.
This has not only polarized debate to the point of forgetting that Mr Assange has what can only be seen as a genuine case to answer but has led to moves from both sides in their determination to “get” Assange or to “defend” him no matter what, have made matters worse.
It is clearly not a case of a completely virtuous man fighting the big brother machine or Britain doing all it can to extradite an accused rapist for trial in Sweden, just to see justice done.
Does anyone really think our government would risk diplomatic relations with a country like Ecuador, including invading their sovereign space (the embassy is a part of Ecuador) just to make sure a man accused of rape in another country faces trial?
Women’s rights groups are crying out: “If only they pursued men in Britain accused of similar crimes with the same vigour.”
During the Libyan invasion, many thought people accused of war crimes in that country were being housed in the Libyan embassy.
Not once did the British government “inform” the Libyans that they could just revoke their status and enter when they pleased.
But what is perhaps baffling to many and underlines a continuing imperialist mentality by the British government is its statement following Ecuador’s rebuke.
Arguing that it could use provisions in the little known Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 a High Commission statement read: “It is only right that we give Ecuador the full picture.”
“We have from the outset sought a mutually agreed diplomatic solution with Ecuador and we continue to do so.”
How much more undiplomatic can you be but to threaten to invade another country’s embassy in the same breath as saying you are seeking “a mutually agreed diplomatic solution?”
It’s a case of “you just remember your place Johnny Foreigner. You’ll only be allowed your rights if you do what we say.’
The Ecuadorians hadn’t even decided whether they would grant Mr Assange political asylum.
Cleverly on receiving the letter, the Ecuadorians went public, wrong footing the British foreign office and using their imperialist arrogance against them.
“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,” said an Ecuadorian government spokesman.
“This is a clear breach of international law and the protocols set out in the Vienna Convention.”
“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. “
Did the Commission think the Ecuador would keep quiet and not go public?
Even the more gung-ho elements in the Commission surely could have served the notice on the embassy after the decision was made.
Instead they have created a diplomatic row where there was none previously, potentially damaging relations with a sovereign democratic progressive country in Latin America.
There was a never an easy way out of this. The more sensible supporters of Assange who have not forgotten the serious crimes of which he is accused have expressed concerns that he would not get a fair trial.
But this doesn’t mean that Assange should not face charges.
The question is how can a fair trial be guaranteed, if at all.
Where a steady hand was required to see an equitable resolution to a sensitive politically charged situation, the British government instead clenched its fist and smashed the negotiating table.
Jolly good show boys!