The UK has given asylum to lots of foreigners in its embassies, people who were fugitives in their own countries and officially declared criminals by their own governments.
Not only the UK, but the US and many other countries have similarly afforded asylum to foreigners entering their embassies. They have done this for fucking decades. That’s decades when these loopholes that the UK is now citing still existed in the treaties, but the UK did it anyway.
You can be partisan and claim “oh, but our people only gave asylum to genn-yoo-eyne bonafide poor people who were being persecuted by nasty evil governments, while ecuador is giving refuge to criminals!!” That is also bullshit. Your political freedom fighter is someone else’s criminal. Your law does not trump their law.
This is not about courts of law and technicalities. This is about an international convention. There are no international courts and no multinational armies waiting to defend and protect this convention. It works simply because countries realize that their own embassies are equally vulnerable, and therefore accord each other the privilege of letting them be.
This is why for over a century, there is a long standing tradition of YOUR criminal fleeing to MY embassy, and then hiding there while making rude gestures at you and going “nyah-nyah-you-can’t catch-me”. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. This kind of provocation is very very common, and the UK has given this provocation hundreds of times to other countries, by taking in asylum seekers into their embassies.
This is the convention that the UK risks breaking if they storm Ecuador’s embassy. Lots of countries already hate the UK for meddling in their affairs. There hardly ever a time when British soldiers aren’t on someone else’s soil, at US or NATO behest, or on their own. There are plenty more sensitive spots around the world than Latin America. Such as the middle east, or south and southeast Asia. If Britain breaks into Ecuador’s embassy, flouting diplomatic norms that have held for decades, they basically declare open season on their own embassies. And a lot more people around the world hate Britain than hate Ecuador.
And all this for a fucking rape case? Not even a rape case, but a sorta-kinda-maybe-rape-but-maybe-not kind of case that even Sweden refused to prosecute, Sweden refused to question Assange over while he was still in Sweden and offered to go to the police or to the prosecutor’s office to answer any questions.
Two things have come out of this:
1. The UK will never, ever storm the Ecuadorian Embassy over this. It was premature, nasty threatening talk made by people who didn’t think the issue through carefully, and probably thought that with a bit of bullying, Ecuador would cave in. They will not follow through, the consequences are just so not worth it.
2. Thousands of people who were on the edge before and hadn’t made up their minds whether Assange’s persecution was political or not, now believe that this has got to be political. No way one country is going to threaten another’s embassy over an alleged rape case. People have shot and killed your policemen out on the street while holed up in their embassies in your country, and that wasn’t provocation enough to storm the embassy. But you’re gonna do it over an alleged rape case that didn’t happen on your soil, that you’re not even prosecuting, that you’re simply forwarding to Sweden, which itself is careful to say that it’s not prosecuting, it’s simply “questioning”?
In short, this was a goof up by some idiot in the UK who decided to send that letter. Nothing good for the UK will come of it.
This comment was originally posted on Reddit by EvanRWT