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article imageVideo: 34 American nations back Ecuador in UK diplomatic spat

By Anne Sewell     Aug 25, 2012 in World
Quito - 34 members of the Organization of American States are backing Ecuador in its diplomatic row with Britain over the granting of asylum to Julian Assange and the perceived threat to the country's sovereignty.
Digital Journal recently reported that there would be a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) on August 24, 2012, to discuss the matter of Julian Assange, his asylum and the U.K.'s threats on Ecuador's sovereignty.
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, hence the meeting of the OAS was called.
Assange sought asylum in Ecuador, as there are fears that should he be extradited to Sweden for questioning on alleged sexual assault charges, he would then be sent on to the U.S. to be charged with espionage, for his part in releasing diplomatic cables that were embarrassing to the U.S.
Shortly before asylum was granted, the U.K. threatened in a letter to raid the embassy and arrest Assange, as they feel it is their duty to deliver him to Sweden. This caused a diplomatic uproar between the U.K. and Ecuador. The letter read as follows:
"You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the U.K., the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the Embassy.”
"We sincerely hope that we do not reach that point, but if you are not capable of resolving this matter of Mr Assange's presence in your premises, this is an open option for us."
Since then, the U.K. government has reiterated that it will not grant Assange safe passage to leave the country and travel to Ecuador.
The OAS includes the U.S. and Canada, but both countries abstained from attending the meeting and were against the meeting, with the U.S. stating "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 meeting on Friday lasted five hours. During the meeting Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño, made a speech, in which he condemned what he called an assault on Ecuador's sovereignty. He said that Ecuador shouldn't be treated as a colony, as he said the perceived threat to storm the Ecuadorian embassy by the U.K. was essentially like a throwback to colonial times.
The result of the meeting was that 34 member countries of the OAS signed the resolution, which rejects any attempts to put at risk the inviolability of diplomatic premises anywhere in the world. The countries expressed solidarity and support for Ecuador in the offering of asylum to Assange.
The member countries who attended the meeting also urged continued talks with Britain to try and resolve their diplomatic problems.
Ecuador has shown in this meeting that it has international backing across the Americas.
RT reports that the U.K. had a representative at the meeting, who made two statements. Firstly, that they had never made a threat to storm the embassy and secondly, that they are committed to finding some kind of diplomatic solution to the problem.
However, despite the statement by the U.K. representative, Ecuador says it has had no approach from Britain on the matter.
While the resolution builds up international pressure on Britain, it is unknown whether this will be of any assistance in avoiding the arrest of Assange. As reported on Digital Journal, a journalist caught a photo of an arrest plan against Assange by the U.K. police, held carelessly in view by a Metro police officer.
More about Julian Assange, Wikileaks, organization of american states, Oas, Ecuador
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