16 August 2012
Extraordinary scenes are unfolding in London as UK authorities are reported to have entered the Knightsbridge building which houses the Ecuadorian Embassy, in defiance of more than 100 years of tradition which treats diplomatic compounds as sovereign territory of the Embassy’s government.
This appears to be preventive action by the UK police in advance of the announcement that Ecuador will grant political asylum to Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. This follows revelations by Ecuadorian officials that the their embassy has been issued with a threat that UK police can enter the embassy and arrest Assange if the Ecuadorians do not hand him over.
Cassie Findlay, spokesperson for Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition, Sydney, said today:
“This is outrageous behaviour by the UK police and British government. No-one can pretend this is about taking a man in for questioning about sexual assault allegations. Would this be happening if Julian Assange was not the founder of WikiLeaks? It cannot be a coincidence that this escalation of punitive action by the UK authorities has taken place when Ecuador is about to announce its decision about granting asylum. Should we not also connect it to the revelations about Trapwire released by WikiLeaks last week and the subsequent massive denial of service attack on the WikiLeaks sites?” she asked.
Julian Assange was forced to seek refuge in Ecuador in June after the Australian government effectively abandoned his case, refusing to make diplomatic representations on his behalf to the Swedish or British governments when his UK Supreme Court appeal was rejected. The rejection of the appeal meant that he could be extradited to Sweden within 10 days.
Assange’s supporters fear that the extradition to Sweden is simply a mechanism to facilitate extradition to the United States, where a secret grand jury has prepared an indictment against him for espionage. Despite the Australian government’s persistent denials of any knowledge of the grand jury, it has been referred to in the court hearings dealing with the charges against the alleged whistleblower, Private Bradley Manning.
The Support Assange and Wikileaks Coalition announced there will be a rally tomorrow, Friday August 17, at 5 pm outside the UK Consulate at Circular Quay denouncing the actions of the British government and calling on them to allow Julian Assange to leave the country for safe refuge in Ecuador.
Cassie Findlay said:
“It is scarcely believable that the UK police could violate the diplomatic immunity of a foreign embassy on their soil. Every nation must wonder about the sovereignty of their own embassy after this turn of events. We call on supporters of WikiLeaks and every Australian concerned about preserving their political rights and due process of law to join us outside the UK consulate to show support for Julian and demand his freedom”.
Rally for Assange at UK Consulate
5pm, Friday 17 August 2012
Gateway Plaza, Quay Side, Alfred St. (opp Circular Quay Station)
Contact: Cassie 0412 355 899 or Corinne 0415 126 649