America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally 437



I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided – after immense pressure from the Obama administration – to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.

This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries – arguably millennia – of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.

The provisions of the Vienna Convention on the status of diplomatic premises are expressed in deliberately absolute terms. There is no modification or qualification elsewhere in the treaty.

Article 22

1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter
them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises
of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the
mission or impairment of its dignity.
3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of
transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

Not even the Chinese government tried to enter the US Embassy to arrest the Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen. Even during the decades of the Cold War, defectors or dissidents were never seized from each other’s embassies. Murder in Samarkand relates in detail my attempts in the British Embassy to help Uzbek dissidents. This terrible breach of international law will result in British Embassies being subject to raids and harassment worldwide.

The government’s calculation is that, unlike Ecuador, Britain is a strong enough power to deter such intrusions. This is yet another symptom of the “might is right” principle in international relations, in the era of the neo-conservative abandonment of the idea of the rule of international law.

The British Government bases its argument on domestic British legislation. But the domestic legislation of a country cannot counter its obligations in international law, unless it chooses to withdraw from them. If the government does not wish to follow the obligations imposed on it by the Vienna Convention, it has the right to resile from it – which would leave British diplomats with no protection worldwide.

I hope to have more information soon on the threats used by the US administration. William Hague had been supporting the move against the concerted advice of his own officials; Ken Clarke has been opposing the move against the advice of his. I gather the decision to act has been taken in Number 10.

There appears to have been no input of any kind from the Liberal Democrats. That opens a wider question – there appears to be no “liberal” impact now in any question of coalition policy. It is amazing how government salaries and privileges and ministerial limousines are worth far more than any belief to these people. I cannot now conceive how I was a member of that party for over thirty years, deluded into a genuine belief that they had principles.

437 thoughts on “America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally

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  • Komodo

    Good to see Ecuador isn’t taking the easy option, anyway:

    We seem to be writing the guidelines for the evil regime of [insert bogeyman here] tojustify removing any asylum-seeking dissidents from our embassy in Evilia City…bad move, Billy Nomates. Compounded by the dodgy validity of approving an extradition warrant for questioning (not prosecution) for an offence likely to pull a term of less than 12 months.

  • Strangely

    @Jon said,
    “No it will not – the Convention allows for exactly these circumstances under section V, sub section 3 where an individual from a country may be arrested in another countries embassy if a serious offence has taken place.”

    …er there’s been an offence, of sorts, well after the supposed events, after the two ladies involved were pressured by who knows who but we can guess.

    However, Assange has not been charged with anything OR tried with a crime in his absence, both of which occurrences could and have happened in the past.

    So are we to read this that anyone can be dragged out of an embassy “for questioning”? Because that’s where it is right now.

    This really is an abomination and the so-called defenders of freedom and justice following WW2, are now to be called the international extra-judiciary torture & execution squad of the USA and UK.

    We who live there should be ashamed and shout NO! NO! NO!

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq Association

    David Mills,
    Your comment is of course empirical but undeniably serious concerns regarding the lack of safeguards and transparency with which actions are being taken against Julian Assange, and the harassment he is being subjected to which has irreparable effects on his physical and mental wellbeing. The threats against his person are further aggravated by the complicit behaviour of the Swedish and U.K. governments, who are wrongfully abrogating his rights.

  • Jon

    @Strangely: for clarification, the words you’ve quoted weren’t mine – I reposted them from elsewhere, as I thought they were suspicious.
    There’s been a report of a crime certainly, but from a legal/technical perspective, I should think there is no offence as such, since Assange has not formally been charged with anything. (That cannot be stated often enough, since the media keep reverting to the phrase “charges in Sweden”, which is incorrect – Sweden just wishes to have a meeting with him).

  • Esfandiah

    ‘I hope to have more information soon on the threats used by the US administration.’

    ‘more’ ? You have yet to provide us with any. If you are going to engage in conspiracy theories – that could indeed be credible – then provide some evidence.

    You do yourself, and your venerable past a disservice by this type of witless thinking. Same applies to the ruminations that lead the article about a DOS attack.

  • Occupy Awakening

    Great piece, it is inexplicable that those Democrats in power have zero to say on this. It is just as disheartening that my former party’s enablers have very little to say on this subject as well, and many of the ones I talk to agree with the strongarm tactics to get Assange.

    I wouldn’t count on the press asking the Obama administration about “pressuring the UK”, I think they are more concerned with Joe Biden gaffes, today.

  • John Goss

    Welcome back Craig. I’ve just lost a comment. When I tried to post it came up with the message:
    Error establishing a database connection
    I then tried to refresh the screen and the message came up:
    No data received
    So I guess it’s lost.

  • John Goss

    Welcome back Craig. As you can see there has been no improvement here while you were away. What it proves all along is that the trumped-up charges against Assange by a Swedish prosecutor were a guise to get Assange extradited to the US where, as he suspects, he would face a long time in harsh conditions, just for revealing the truth. The US is looked upon now like some of the countries it used to criticise, those that have no real laws to protect their citizens, just prisons and gulags to keep dissidents out of the way.
    I fear for the future.

  • Dave Farrar

    Thank you. What is to stop Ecuador making Mr Assange an Ecuadorian diplomat? Even Britain would not touch him then!

  • Strangely

    Well I’ve done a bit of checking and am agreement with Craig on the “Ian Sharp – lawyer” disinformation. Very sharp practice!
    I can find no reference to Sharps reference in either the Vienna convention here:
    …or the dubious bit of Uk legislation from 1987 in either its revised or originally enacted forms here:

    Definite bit of skullduggery going on.

  • Grassy Noel

    Why did this same government let Yvonne Fletcher’s killers travel from their embassy to the airport, while it will not do the same for Assange who has not been proved to have committed any crime at all, let alone murder?

  • wikispooks

    David Mills has clearly not familiarised himself with the Assange affaire other than through the filters of the UK MSM.

    Assange has not been charged with any offense in any jurisdiction. He has consistently offered to submit himself to questioning by the Swedish police and that offer remains open. He even remained in Sweden for two weeks following the original complaints against him for that purpose. But the original Swedish presecutor considered the complaints too trivial to warrant further action and he left.

    So what caused the Swedish about face and the drastic step of issuing a European Arrest Warrant against someone with no charges pending?

    Here’s a clue – Towards the end of Assange’s two week wait in Sweden, Carl Rove arrived in Stockholm, ostensibly in his role as a paid advisor to the Swedish PM. There are plenty more if you care to look. Put all that together with what we know of the US Grand Jury on Wikileaks and it becomes crystal clear that the official UK narrative is pure Machiavellian deception.

    Can’t say I’m surprised though, since ‘Machiavellian deception’ is a constant in matters of sensitive foreign policy. I confess I AM surprised at Craig’s allegation though. There was I thinking I was beyond surprise at the depths to which the UK FCO its government and SIS’s will plumb in the service of their US masters.

  • doug scorgie

    I note that Cameron and Clegg are on holiday at the moment leaving the Foreign Secretary, William Haig, in charge and he is the one to make the decision on removal of invoiability of the embassy.

  • David

    @Dave: What’s to stop them? International power politics. Ecuador is a relative minnow on the world stage, and it lacks powerful friends (the USA). It won’t have any luck at the UN getting condemnation for Britain because of the way the Security Council is rigged. Any move it makes to protect Assange risks serious consequences. Britain meanwhile can swagger around like a bully who knows his big brother will sort out anyone who tries to mess with him.

  • Matt

    Could you provide more evidence that the US government is behind this?
    I think nobody would be surprised if that was the case because of their track record in the past.

    But I believe it would shed a totally different light on the legality and morality of invading the territory of the embassy.

    After all, thus far all they have is the testimony of a woman and no way of proving any solid proof for anything. I doubt that the unverified and unverifyable testimony of one single witness is sufficient to claim a “serious offense” justifying invading an embassy.

    Otherwise China would only have to “find” a witness claiming that Chen Guangchen has raped her – and invade the US embassy. Does anyone really believe that the western world would grant China the same room for justification? I doubt that.

  • Komodo

    Re DDOS: it’s rather inexplicable that all those hits haven’t thrown up a lot of comments, if the hits were genuine. And I’ve never lost the server for minutes on end before. Looks like an anomaly to me, and DDOS is very definitely a possible cause.
    Re. US involvement: this question is rather crucial to the affair. It’s likely, it’s “common knowledge” on the interweb (ie universally cut and pasted) but it’s rather like Israeli nukes; no-one’s admitting to it. Reluctantly agree with your critic here, Craig. If you have something hard, the world needs to know.

  • technicolour

    The Ecuadorian government will announce its decision on Assange’s future at 10pm today (AEST).

    A government official in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, said that the British government had made it clear it would not allow Assange to leave the country to travel to Ecuador, so even with a grant of asylum or similar protection, he would probably remain stuck in the embassy.

    Despite a growing police presence at the building that houses the embassy, and social media speculation, police have not entered the embassy. However, the Metropolitan Police may be preparing to deal with angry supporters if Assange emerges and is arrested.

    Read more:

  • rune

    Bravo Craig, thank you. And Viva Ecuador!

    No doubt you’ll be flooded with misinformation and thread hijacking by US State Dept employees, who are simply “going along to get along.”

    Ecuador has made a difficult but principled decision. I am gobsmacked by their courage, and dismayed by the British Govt’s cowardice and lack of spine.

  • guest

    I think it should now be clear to all, the USA is in charge at Number 10, it has been for many decades.

  • David

    @Grassy Noel: Libya under Gaddafi had shown its willingness to commit acts of international terrorism. The risks of pissing them off were judged to be too great. Ecuador is a peaceful nation that can safely be trodden on.
    There is a clear analogy with the incentives created by the invasion of Iraq here. Don’t want to get invaded by the likes of the USA and UK? Don’t get caught napping like relatively unarmed Iraq! Get yourself some real weapons of mass destruction so the imperial powers won’t risk attacking you.
    If a bully is allowed to stroll around the playground beating up the weak kids, everyone will come to school carrying a knife.

  • Jives


    ‘I hope to have more information soon on the threats used by the US administration.’
    ‘more’ ? You have yet to provide us with any. If you are going to engage in conspiracy theories – that could indeed be credible – then provide some evidence.
    It’s you who’s being witless Esfandiah.Read again what Craig wrote.”More information” is simply that:relating to the threats mentioned without necessarily defining them one can still employ the term “more” in a general sense.You’re simply selectively mis-interpreting the semantics to suit your own skewed interpretation.

  • Joey Ramone

    Dear Sir,
    The British government has chosen a psychotic cowboy government as its friend. Keep in mind, it was the British colonists in America kicking Britain out of Northern America.
    A dangerous way Britain is going in order to fulfill the lawbreaking wishes of the psycho government to the West beyond Ireland.
    Britain must not let itself get blackmailed into breaking valid international treaties and laws.
    Even if the U.S. threaten to publish nasty information about the British government if they don’t bow to their wishes, Britain must stand strong and tall. Everything is better than to become the vassal of a rogue state and get isolated from the other European countries. Old Europe, and Britain is part of it, does not need America.
    And now it is about time the Swedish authorities clear up their act and review their “reasons” for an extradition. Therer is not much proof of anything left on their side.

  • OldMark

    ‘Why did this same government let Yvonne Fletcher’s killers travel from their embassy to the airport, while it will not do the same for Assange who has not been proved to have committed any crime at all, let alone murder?’

    GrassyNoel- the legislation which allows Willie Hague to rattle his sabre at the Ecuadoreans (I hope in vain)was passed in 1987 in the wake of the Yvonne Fletcher shooting- a classic example of knee jerk law making. In 1984 when wpc Fletcher was fatally shot the Government had no handy domestic legislation available to justify the storming of the Libyan diplomatic compound & the arrest of her killers.

  • Marcel Oerlemans

    100,000 HITS IN 100 MINUTES, that is not a ddos, that’s great succes 🙂
    If you need help with hosting, send me a mail.

  • Jon

    @John Goss – the server is under heavy load, having been directly linked from Wikileaks’ Twitter, and from Russia Today. Just post again, should be all good.
    New visitors – if you make a comment but it doesn’t appear, it is probably caught in the spam filter, rather than foul play. I’ll check often today, to ensure things are published reasonably speedily.

  • Komodo

    Technicolour – the announcement that Assange is granted asylum has already been made (the timezone you quote is Australian).
    Re Hague:
    I’d say he’s between a rock and a hard place…licking Yank ass on the one hand and desperately trying to drum up business in S. America.
    Still, he’ll do the stupid thing, as neither Cameron or Osborne will be with us much longer. And he’ll see it as an opportunity.

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