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article imageOrganization of American States to meet on Assange issue

By Anne Sewell     Aug 18, 2012 in World
The OAS will convene a meeting on August 24, to discuss the matter of Julian Assange, his asylum and the U.K.'s threats on Ecuador's sovereignty. ALBA and UNASUR are meeting on the issue this weekend.
Ecuador granted asylum to Assange on August 16, and a diplomatic uproar ensued, with the British Foreign Office threatening to enter the embassy to take Assange. The Ecuadorian government is taking this as a threat to their sovereignty and indeed, a threat to diplomatic relations worldwide.
In a vote of 23 members in favor, three against and five abstentions, the OAS has agreed to hold international-level talks on the U.K.'s threats to invade the Ecuadorean embassy to arrest Assange, for onward extradition to Sweden on alleged sex-related charges. The U.S., Canada and Trinidad and Tobago were the countries who voted against the proposal.
This proposal was adopted by the OAS, despite the U.S. stating that OAS has nothing to do with this issue and that this dispute is a bilateral matter between Ecuador and the United Kingdom.
In a statement from the U.S. State Department on Friday, it was said that "The United States is not a party to the 1954 OAS Convention on Diplomatic Asylum and does not recognize the concept of diplomatic asylum as a matter of international law."
The British Foreign Office continues to maintain that it has the right to enter the embassy to extract Assange. However, Ecuador states that any entry by U.K. officials into its embassy premises would constitute a violation of Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
According to Wikipedia, Article 22 reads as follows:
"Article 22. The premises of a diplomatic mission, such as an embassy, are inviolate and must not be entered by the host country except by permission of the head of the mission. Furthermore, the host country must protect the mission from intrusion or damage. The host country must never search the premises, nor seize its documents or property. Article 30 extends this provision to the private residence of the diplomats."
British Foreign Minister, William Hague has stated that the U.K. "remains committed" to its obligation to extradite Assange to Sweden. He further states that the Ecuadorian government's decision to grant Assange diplomatic immunity is not recognized by the U.K. The U.K. insists that it has the right to enter the embassy under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987.
Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño, has further called on the Bolivarian Alliance for the People's of Our Americas (ALBA) and the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), to hold meetings on the situation.
ALBA countries have expressed their solidarity with Ecuador and a “most resounding rejection” of the UK's threats against the country. In a press release published by Ecuador, ALBA has warned the U.K. of “the serious and irreversible consequences the execution of these threats would have on the political, economic and cultural relations” with its member countries. An emergency meeting of ALBA will be held on Saturday.
An "extraordinary meeting" of UNASUR has also been convened in Ecuador on Sunday to discuss the issue.
The Australian News brought up a couple of other instances of people seeking asylum in embassies.
These include Chinese human rights campaigner, Chen Guangchen, who entered the U.S. embassy in Beijing in May to avoid house arrest and abuse. Chen was eventually given the right by China to travel to the U.S. to study.
Another example is Fang Lizhi, who was a major figure in pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Together with his wife, he lived in the U.S. embassy in Beijing for more than a year before being allowed to leave China and go into exile in the U.S.
Ecuador says that Assange can stay at the Ecuadorian embassy for as long as necessary, and has said that it will pursue all legal avenues, including an appeal to the International Criminal Court, to obtain safe passage for Assange to leave the U.K. and travel to Ecuador.
President Rafael Correa has stressed that he will not hand Assange over to the U.K. authorities and that there is no legal basis for Ecuador to do so.
More about Julian Assange, Ecuador, Asylum, Wikileaks, british foreign office
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