OAS urges an end to Assange stalemate
FOREIGN ministers from the American continent have urged Britain and Ecuador to end the stand-off over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange peacefully.
Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for questioning on sex allegations, has been granted political asylum by the South American country and spent the last two months holed up in its London embassy.
The UK government has made it clear the activist will be arrested and extradited if he steps outside the building after jumping bail.
Ecuador also claims that Britain has threatened to storm the embassy and detain 41-year-old Assange in a move that would violate diplomatic conventions.
The 34-member Organisation of American States (OAS) met in Washington and passed a motion backing the “inviolability of diplomatic missions”. It also urged the two sides to resolve the row.
The UK government has warned it can legally enter the embassy and arrest Assange under the 1987 Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act, but Foreign Secretary William Hague says there is no intention to “storm” the building.
Britain’s determination to arrest the WikiLeaks founder was laid bare on Friday by a document that revealed police had been told to detain him “under all circumstances” if he steps outside the embassy. The paper, recorded at a briefing, appears to order an arrest if Assange attempts to leave in a diplomatic bag or vehicle.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Our objective is to arrest Julian Assange for breach of bail. Under no circumstances would an arrest be made that was in breach of diplomatic immunity.”
Assange is refusing to travel to Scandinavia amid fears he will be extradited to the United States.
Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa said: “This could end tomorrow if the UK grants safe passage, or it could go on for months and years if Assange can’t leave the embassy of Ecuador in London.”
DANI GARAVELLI: PAGE 17 »
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