The ongoing sage surrounding Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has gathered pace of late. Currently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Assange faces charges of sexual assault in Sweden, and is allegedly afraid of extradition to the USA where is exploits as a whistleblower are not exactly popular with the authorities. The latest twist in the tale, which has seen crowds of supporters, press and police outside the embassy building, is the intervention of the Argentine Ambassador in London, but perhaps this should have been expected. The law surrounding extradition from embassy premises is a curious one, and Assange appears to be taking advantage of diplomatic tradition.
Remember the Falklands
Alicia Castro, the Ambassador in question, is a relative newcomer to the job, having previously held posts as a stewardess with an airline, and as a union official. She is known to be close to the Argentine President, Cristina Kirchner, and is fiercely nationalistic. It is perhaps no surprises, then, that her recent outburst has compared the UK’s approach to Mr Assange’s situation with our defence of the Falkland Islands. Argentina has made noises lately about revisiting the idea of taking the islands back (let’s steer clear of the historical events for the sake of brevity), which would most likely be in breach of international law.
Arrogant British Diplomacy
Miss Castro, speaking on home radio station, said: ‘For us Argentines, this fact [sic] that shows us the arrogance of British diplomacy, does not surprise us. ‘It is very similar to the approach taken toward the Malvinas Islands. London is being urged by the United Nations to negotiate and participate in dialogue with Argentina.’
She went on to accuse the UK of ‘violating international law’ in its dealings with the Assange case. It should be noted that, as yet, no attempt has been made to remo0ve Mr Assange from his diplomatic safe-house.
What Next for Assange?
The question of whether Julian Assange is guilty of the charges against him in Sweden seems to have been brushed aside; now, this increasingly interesting – and in some ways farcical – case has become about international and diplomatic law, and whether there is anything illegal being carried out by the UK authorities. Threats – veiled and rather listless – to remove Mr Assange from the embassy have been silenced and would undoubtedly have caused outrage in diplomatic circles. At the moment, speculation is rife as to how the embassy staff can get their visitor out, and on a plane to sunny South America, without being apprehended.