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/ 17 Aug 2012

Julian Assange Embassy Siege

High drama unfolded Wednesday night outside of the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge, in the latest twist of a story that has the attention of the most powerful governments in the world.

Police surrounded the Ecuadorian Embassy where Mr Assange has sought refuge in an attempt to escape extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations of serious sexual offences.

Wikki Leaks founder, Julian Assange, almost caused a diplomatic melt down in global relations between some of the world’s super powers by releasing millions of top secret diplomatic cables to world scrutiny. Bradley Manning is still in prison in the United States for the role he played in obtaining the sensitive information. Mr Assange was instantly a man of interest for the governments concerned, many of whom are still trying to contain the diplomatic fallout from that incident. The Wikki Leaks website has since suffered repeated complex cyber attacks in an attempt to stem the flow of politically toxic information.

News has just broken that the Government of Ecuador has granted Mr Assange political asylum, which has clearly enraged many who would like to see Mr Assange placed on trial. Mr Assange has always maintained that these charges have been created by dark political forces and may be a preliminary step that will ultimately lead to his extradition to the USA for trial on more serious charges relating to alleged breaches of their national security. Pro-Assange protesters have gathered outside of the embassy, which have lead to clashes with the police and two arrests thus far.

In an unusual step the British Government has threatened to enter the Embassy in breach of diplomatic convention, and possibly in breach of international law, to arrest Mr Assange. Images spring to mind of the now famous Iranian Embassy siege of 1980 which saw black clad Special Air Service special forces burst through the Iranian Embassy windows using explosives. The reality is probably a little less dramatic but no less enthralling.

We wait with baited breath as this situation unfolds in front of the world’s media with CNN reporting an “assault” on the embassy had been threatened by the British Government. Ecuador has retaliated by stating that this would be regarded as a hostile act but has not specified how it would respond to such a move.

Governmental and human rights lawyers will no doubt be pouring over their statute books and studying the case law to assess the legal ramifications for such a move.

Protesters arrested are welcome to use our free and independent legal advice by calling our crime 24/7 helpline: 07710 454125.

By Trainee Solicitor Mike Herford.
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