UK/Ecuador Assange asylum standoff continues

Photo: the scene outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London at this hour, via @wiseupforBM.

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, has accepted Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's bid for asylum. Whether the UK will allow the Wikileaks founder to exit the South American country's embassy in London to enter exile is another matter entirely. The scene around the embassy over the last 24 hours has grown increasingly intense: police vans circling, cops entering the building where the embassy is located, protesters upset that the UK would seemingly violate decades of diplomatic precedent to grab a man who has not yet been charged with a crime. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden over accusations of sexual assault against two Swedish women.

Backpack broadcaster James Albury has been webcasting here.

Coverage: New York Times, Guardian, and Kevin Gozstola's blog are updated sources.

Previously: Ecuador claims UK threatens to barge in to embassy and grab Assange


    1. Carl Bildt, I remember him!  He was a director at Lundin Petroleum when they were involved in those massacres of Sudanese who just happened to be living on oil-rich lands that he wanted.

      Darn them, they should have known better, just as Wikileaks’ Assange should have known better.

      Carl Bildt never lies, excepting when African massacres, oil, money, and the enemies of Assange are involved.

      1. I wonder how much he has emotionally invested in this case… The wikileaked cables where US diplomatic types describe him as a ‘small man, big mouth’ case are pretty hilarious…

    1. That is really important news. Boingboing should acknowledge it. When is the last time ANYONE was extradited for rape?

    2. They didn’t extradite in that case because they didn’t have faith that he’d be given a fair shake under the U.S. justice system. Which sounds paranoid until you consider that Georgia just executed a mentally retarded man last week.

    1. “I find it very difficult to understand why,” lawyer Claes Borgström (whose sister, or is it both of his sisters, works for the Bonnier family, and Thomas Bodstrom is published through them, and Anna Ardin once worked for them, and perhaps still does????).

      I find it difficult to understand why everyone in Sweden involved with this is so despicably dishonest?

  1. So this is what it’s come to, countries, sovereign nation states, diplomats, & government representatives having tit-for-tat arguments via Twitter. Perhaps I’m a tad out of line to say this to these countries, but here goes: grow the fuck up. 

  2. Remember, Assange has offered to:
    -Answer questions re: “sex by surprise” allegations with Swedish officials at the embassy. (He’s not been charged with anything.)
    -Hop a plan to Sweden ASAP if it’s guaranteed he won’t be extradited to the US.

    This has nothing to do with the allegations. Nothing to do with the UK, either. The US wants him (see: Bradley Manning) and the London police are just doing our bidding.

    1. To be fair, criminal justice systems vary. In Sweden, Assange’s case has reached the point where he is generally considered “charged” in American sense of the word.

      1. What would the American sense of the word? As far as I understand, the Swedish process here is similar to the German one, i.e. the executive (state attorney) began an investigation. 

        After this investigation they will decide if they press charges or not. 

        1. In the US, indictments can be issued before you are arrested, in Sweden, formal charges aren’t filed until after the arrest. As Assange is on the run from his arrest warrant, it is not possible for Sweden to file charges.

          Whether or not the arrest warrant was sufficient to be determined as “charged with an offense” per the UK’s extradition requirements was the sticking point of his extradition appeals.

      2. Although it is clear a decision has not been taken to charge him, that is because, under Swedish procedure, that decision is taken at a late stage with the trial following quickly thereafter. In England and Wales, a decision to charge is taken at a very early stage; there can be no doubt that if what Mr Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged and thus criminal proceedings would have been commenced. If the commencement of criminal proceedings were to be viewed in this way, it would be to look at Swedish procedure through the narrowest of eyes. On this basis, criminal proceedings have commenced against Mr Assange.”

        1. That’s what makes me a tad suspicious of the various wikileaks PR feeds. They are certainly intelligent enough to understand where in the Swedish criminal justice system this case falls, but they insist on playing semantics and trying to downplay the seriousness of the issue by insisting that he hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.

          1. No, the UK supreme court confirmed that Assange has not been charged, and stood corrected on a previous statement in which the judges said the contrary.

    1. I would think, it’s sovereign partial extraterritorial territory of Ecuador like any other embassy. Just blockading the embassy would would probably not be an act of war.

      1.  That seems like a bit of a stretch, unless you’re going to argue that the Berlin Wall was an act of war.

        1.  Well…I suppose it’s up to the sovereign state really. Casus belli is whatever an individual state considers casus belli to be.

        2. A much more complicated case, as the Soviets never blocked diplomatic personnel and didn’t interfere with the air bridge.   And from the German side, we never really considered the GRD to be a sovereign state, but acted like it were one. 

    2.  It would be a diplomatic incident, but then again granting political asylum would be considered a diplomatic incident as well.

        1. The UK is entitled to scan any diplomatic bag. If it were found to contain a person then they would be fully entitled to open it as the senders would be abusing their diplomatic protections.

          Strange – but true, the UK has already found one diplomatic container being used for this reason – although in this case the poor person inside didn’t want to be there:

          1.  From the Wiki:

            Article 27. The host country must permit and protect free communication between the diplomats of the mission and their home country. A diplomatic bag must never be opened even on suspicion of abuse. A diplomatic courier must never be arrested or detained.

            The Dikko affair involved something that was not labelled as a diplomatic bag

      1. Dress up on a London Police uniform, step out on the porch, and tell the lads there’s free coffee waiting for them around the back.  Then leg it.

        Or he could just dress as Lucius Malfoy or Mr. Humphries.  It would fool everyone!

        1. If you’re going with “dress in a London Police uniform,” why not just go right to “blast Yakety Sax over loudspeakers, release the scantily-clad ladies, escape in the ensuing chaos”?

  3. I am impressed at the lengths to which the UK  will go to see that an accused rapist is brought to justice.  Because this is just about rape, right? 


    1. I’m not sure I get the “just about rape” part. I mean, it’s not like he is alleged to have forgotten to sign a tax form. He’s alleged to have raped two women. That’s generally considered a Big Thing.

      I certainly don’t know enough about the allegations to say that the women are lying. To me it looks like Assange might have done some things that some people liked (Wikileaks) and some things that are reprehensible (his other legal issues).

      1. He’s wanted for questioning about twice having sex without a condom with women who he’d had sex (with a condom) a few hours earlier, and, for rousing one of the women via continuing their lovemaking from the night before. Maybe a matter for couples counseling?

        1. People who are asleep are unable to give consent. Having sex with someone who is unable to consent is rape. Prior consent to a previous act is not consent to a new act.  Secondly? The condom thing? The woman told him she would not sleep with him without a condom. Her consent hinged on the use of a condom.  So he held her down, and had unprotected sex with her. 

          If you think any of these things are OK, you have a serious problem. 

        2. Rousing someone by having sex with them is not continuing “lovemaking”, it is rape. Or are you saying that penetrating a sleeping woman is not rape?

        3. Assange, like Hans Reiser, appears to fall under the special “He Did Something Really Geeky-Cool” defense for crimes against women. Reiser had people falling all over themselves to defend him because the bitch clearly done set him up… right up until he led the cops to the body.

    2.  I thought it was generally being described as rape but that there was more to it that that. Is there a source with the official complaint? I’ve heard all sorts of varying accounts of the “charge” (in quotes since he hasn’t been charged yet) but nothing definitive. It was my impression that he wasn’t charged with rape in the traditionally understood sense, he violated more broad and protective Swedish law on sexual conduct. Not to open a can of whupass on myself for trying to get the scale of the offense right, but I don’t believe it was “punch a lass in the head and brutalize her” kind of charge, it was something more akin to molestation, failure to use contraceptives or something similar.

      Any official links out there?

      1. As far as I know these are the police transcripts of the two accusers, the accused and nine witnesses. If you want to skim the witness statements, witness E is the most detailed.,04.shtml

        Assuming these are the actual testimonies, I dont see much evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Assange even if most of the details given by the accusers are correct.

        1. So skimming it as well, to my ears, failing to use a contraceptive  when expected to in this day of HIV would seem more like a form of sexual assault, serious for sure but not the same as rape in the commonly understood sense.  I think calling Assange’s charge rape is problematic… or at least if this is rape, then we need a more serious charge for the sexual violent act that most people think of when they hear the word rape. No objection to more and harsher legal distinctions, but for now it should be made more clear what he is actually accused of.

  4. The Sunday announcement is really, really interesting.  I wonder what that’s about.

    Does he just want to make sure he is arrested in front of lots of people while making a statement?

        1. Yes, well, no sense seeking asylum if you’re going to just go and leave the protection of the country . . .

  5. A wise man once said “i say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit”

    Honestly though, this planet is so corrupt and so completely fucked. I say we all move to Mars and start again. And this time we’ll make money illegal.

    Boing Boing readers first then the Editors ;)

    1. You’re right – the appropriate response to corruption by some is mass killing of everyone.
      I realize it’s a joke, but it’s not funny, just like it’s not funny when assholes say, “let’s just nuke the Middle East”.  It’s a simplistic and evil response to a complex problem.

      1. I’m not taking it there – I’m really not. Especially since the “site” happens to be my home. I’m just at a loss to say anything more meaningful.

        I’ve always known the world was corrupt and driven by financial gain – this isn’t new to me. But lately it just seems that we’re losing more and more of our human and civil rights and there’s nothing we can do about it.

        In all seriousness, I despair. I truly despair…

      2. So what we should do is first a mass-killing of all the people who have loads of ethics, morals, scruples, etc and like to get a bit preachy about fluff on the internet …and THEN we can nuke the rest of the planet in relative peace. :)

  6. I understand that they Swedish “Questioning” is more complex and involved in their process than is conveyed by the phrase “wanted for questioning” implies to most of us… But couldn’t they just set up a Swedish Court inside the embassy. i know it is a bit ridiculous and a lot of effort but they do seem willing to go to a lot of effort in the first place.

    There was a good opinion piece back earlier in the process about how insulting this whole thing was to the rape victims of the world who generally don’t get this type of effort spent to bring their attackers to justice even if they are known and documented. (It was not a pro Assange piece either – they did not like him nor excuse what he had done. I can’t remember who wrote it off the top of my head)

    1. The insult is not that this is happening to Assange; the insult is that it doesn’t happen more often.

  7. I don’t know whether Assange is innocent or guilty of these disturbing charges.

    I don’t know how far the Swedish justice system usually goes when pursuing these kinds of cases.

    I don’t know if the UK routinely extradites people accused of sexual assault.

    I don’t know if somehow, the U.S. Government orchestrated this entire mess as part of a vast international conspiracy to silence troublesome whistleblowers.

    But I DO know that Ecuador is a pretty odd choice of sanctuary for someone who feels so strongly about freedom of the press.

    1. Given that they had already offered him residency it probably seemed an obvious choice,

      He also had to choose a country which was not only sympathetic to him but which would also not buckle under the considerable diplomatic pressure his asylum request would generate.

      If you were Assange what country would you have picked?

      1. As someone who has never been forced to contend with Swedish law I haven’t really given it much thought. It’s just interesting to see the strange bedfellows that international politics can make.

        I’ll grant him this, though: Ecuador has more freedom of press than Russia (the country which gave him his own TV show).

        1. Russia, even in its recent past, has committed appalling crimes against its press. At the same time the little I have seen on Russia Today has been pretty impressive.

          From my possibly biased perspective, I would classify the US as being between Ecuador and Russia in terms of freedom of the press.  Regardless of what you think of Assange and whether you think he is guilty of rape, it is hard not to see Wikileaks as journalism. What do you think would happen to Assange were he to find himself there?

          If I were to name all countries that I felt were serious about giving freedom to the press I could only come up with Iceland. If you could name several more it would honestly brighten my day.

          1. From my possibly biased perspective, I would classify the US as being between Equador and Russia in terms of freedom of the press.

            You are of course entitled to your opinion, but independent international watchdog groups such as Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders rate Ecuador’s freedom of press much worse than that of the United States. Both rank much better than Russia, however.

          2. Russia Today is a rather good news source, at least compared to the laughable mainstream choices here in the U.S.A.. Although, I assume Russia Today’s international English-language version is quite different from the version being shown to their native Russian audience, like how Al-Jazeera Arabic is a different animal from Al-Jazeera English.

  8. What I find interesting is the conspicuous lack of people who entertain both notions that this is a witch-hunt AND Assange is probably a rapist. It is also entirely possible that the Swedes have no intention of extraditing him, but will make no guarantees as a matter of principle, i.e. “Who are we to request extraditions and refuse them to others?”

    The last conjecture I believe least, but I’m not about to pretend that demeaning the women’s claims as “sex by surprise” is either clever or accurate. The simple way I characterize the affair is thus: It’s almost entirely the fault of the governments involved:

    The United States (my own), for being such wonderful paragons of human rights that people are thrown into extrajudicial limbo to be enhancedly interrogated; and Sweden for refusing to guarantee not to subsequently extradite (however hypocritical it makes them seem). The UK I blame a lot less, Pinochet notwithstanding (and I have ancestral reasons to hate that fucker) , they are following the law here. In any other circumstance sending an accused rapist to another European country to face a valid arrest wouldn’t be a big deal.

    Assange I blame as well, if what he did wasn’t legally rape- it should be. The guy’s a dirtbag by his own lawyer’s description of events. If you need a hero, look elsewhere. The only reason I blame him least, is because justice would have found him by now had it not been for the interplay of more powerful parties.

    1. … if what he did wasn’t legally rape- it should be.

      Since there has been a lot of innuendo about what he did and didnt do, I would be curious to know what exactly do you think he did which may not be legally rape but which should be?

      1. Innuendo: Suggestion, implication.

        12.07pm: Emmerson is now explaining the alleged victim SW’s witness statement. Emmerson says:
        They fell asleep and she woke up by his penetrating her. She immediately asked if he was wearing anything. He answered: “You.” She said: “You better not have HIV.” He said: “Of course not.” She may have been upset, but she clearly consented to its [the sexual encounter’s] continuation and that is a central consideration.

        Sounds pretty detailed and explicit to me.

        Edit: Break formatting.

        1. I assume you mean that you feel that waking someone up via penetration should be considered rape. I would agree with this.

          I also agree that that is quite explicit but its a little sneaky to describe this as “his own lawyer’s description of events”.

          Unless I am missing something Assanges lawyer was not giving Assanges version of event but those of his accusers. He was pointing out that even the accuser states that she was comfortable for him to continue.

          This is her testimony as I understand it:

          They fell asleep and she woke by feeling him penetrate her. She immediately asked ‘are you wearing anything’ and he answered ‘you’. She told him ‘you better not have HIV’ and he replied ‘of course not’. She felt it was too late. He was already inside her and she let him continue.

          1. I assume you mean that you feel that waking someone up via penetration should be considered rape. I would agree with this.

            Can we also agree that any guy who has condom-less sex with multiple women who clearly prefer safe sex and then refuses to get an HIV test at their behest is pretty much acting like a huge dirtbag?

          2. He was already inside her and she let him continue.

            Basically irrelevant to the issue of whether penetration of someone who is unconscious is rape. You are missing something. The article states that the quote is a response to accusations, not that it is a summary of them.

          3. @The_Chemist:disqus
            I am getting my information from this source,,00.shtml

            I assume it to be accurate and my skepticism of the rape claims are largely based on the information on that site. I am happy to be corrected though.

            EDIT: I dont think I made myself clear though. I was not suggesting that Assange would have been justified in starting to rape a woman as long as she let him continue. I was saying that, in a he says / she says situation once she claims that she consented it is a blow to her case. That is why the lawyer brought it up. He was not, as I understand it, giving Assange’s side of the story.

          4. @DeargDoom:disqus : Any decent human being shouldn’t HAVE to be blackmailed into such a test. If you don’t respect someone enough to get an HIV test at their first request, you shouldn’t be sticking your condomless dick into them in the first place. Particularly if they are unconscious at the time.

            Like I said earlier, I still don’t know if he’s a criminal. But I’ve seen enough to conclude that he’s almost certainly a dirtbag.

            Can you imagine any of Assange’s supporters rallying to the defense of, say, Bill O’Reilly if the Fox pundit found himself in a similar legal jam?

          5. @DeargDoom:disqus

            I assume it to be accurate and my skepticism

            [Emphasis added]

            Your skepticism… is selective? And apparently not for sources that uses phrases like “man-hater”? Regardless, information from that source does not magically undo what his lawyer said. Either that or he’s a bad lawyer who ouright denies versions of events by not denying them. He wants us to know that the takeaway from the allegation is that it can’t be rape because she didn’t stop him. He doesn’t seem to have much to say about whether that part of the report is factual.

            Edit: Pretty my words not so.

          6. @The_Chemist:disqus
            (My initial response disappeared – apologies if this is a double post)

            I deliberately used the word assume. If it were demonstrated that the transcripts from that source were false then my opinion would change.

            For the record, I find the use of the word man hater to be unfair and distasteful. The actual transcripts appear to be accurate though.

            If you could be convinced of their accuracy, and given that they contradict your understanding of what is claimed, would your opinion change?

          7. @Brainspore:disqus
            I will freely admit to being more sympathetic to Assange than Bill O Reilly.

            At the same time I would like to think that I would have the integrity to defend O Reilly were his brand of journalism to put him in danger of being sentenced to death.

            EDIT: To be clear, I would not defend Assange’s behaviour were I of the opinion that he actually did initiate sex with an unconscious woman. Based on what I believe to be the actual testimonies I do not find the accusations to be credible.

    2. Well said. My biggest challenge with this whole mess has been the fact that I am so equally disgusted with all parties. Assange, who is most likely a dirtbag, his “they’re just opportunistic sluts” defenders, the fact that this whole circus is certainly tied to his wikileaks infamy and so on and so forth.

    3. It’s not lacking from me.  I think he should stand before a swedish court, yet I cannot rule out the possibility that the case – regardless of its validity – has poltical undertones and might be used to turn him over to the US anyhow.

      Arguments that such fears are unfounded basically revolve around that Sweden is just to darn nice to do this, and anyway Guatanoma is about to be closed. Also, he couldn’t possibly be afraid of a death penalty, even though the US has a proven track record of execution, assassinations and current politicians calling for his death.

      1. He can’t be extradited to the US to face any charges that could carry the death penalty. Full stop. If you want to believe that the entire European justice system would simply wave that away in his case, you can, but you also have to explain why he isn’t in the US already, then.

        1. Oh, I’ve become convinced of this. I also don’t think that he is that important to the United Statey so that they would lie about this. n.

          He’s not bin Laden.

          But *Assange* doesn’t have to feel that way. But I see that I didn’t wrote that clearly before.

    4. “In any other circumstance sending an accused rapist to another European country to face a valid arrest wouldn’t be a big deal.” When the whole European extradition procedure started the reports made it seem that the provisions were very rarely used for cases such as rape.  No idea how biased the sources I read at the time were. Keeping track of bias, posturing, etc let alone truths in the details of this case has not been the easiest thing to do.

  9. So the US and UK are violating international law in an unprecedented manner in order to capture and punish a man who revealed the fact that those countries routinely violate international law. They make great pronouncements about the legal obligation of extradition, while making a mockery of the treaty of Vienna and threatening a sovereign nation?

    Finally, all this is because of how seriously the UK takes allegations of sexual assault, we are to believe. They treat all suspected no-condom fiends like this, not just the ones they plan to render to GITMO. 

    Does anyone believe the cover story? Does anyone seriously believe that Assange is not being hunted down extrajudicially (and judicially) for something that is not even a crime under US law?

    1. I’m sorry, I missed the part where the US has actually done anything in this particular incident, and where the UK has, in fact, violated any international law.

      Apparently, making sure an accused rapist is able to avoid being questioned for his (alleged) crimes is worth enough to Ecuador to screw up their diplomatic relations with the UK. Their call.

      1. Who is being accused of what now?
        So far, no one has been accused of anything, as Sweden only wants to “talk” to Assange, and by “talk”, I mean; put him on a plane to the U.S..

        No arrest warrant has been issued as it’s not clear if there is even a “crime”
        (actually, it’s pretty clear there isn’t one)
        as he’s not a “suspect” or ” a person of interest” he’s currently only a: “witness”.

        1. Well, there’s the small detail of the two women who said some rather pointed things about him, but, you know, women. “Julian you never call, Julian you’re always giving interviews instead of spending time with me, Julian you held me down and raped me.” What can you do? They’re so emotional.

          And you are absolutely right, no arrest warrant has been issued, except for the arrest warrant that the Swedish courts issued. Oh, wait, never mind.

          And, of course, one might be confused by the idea that the United States, which is apparently capable of getting someone extradited from the UK for copyright violations, needed to gin up rape charges against him in Sweden so he could be extradited there and then to the US even though the US hasn’t bothered to actually file charges or issue a warrant against him, but it makes perfect sense because black helicopters.

          Any women in Ecuador that Assange might end up dating are on their own, however.

    2. If it were that big a deal, Assange could just have been killed. He’s obviously vulnerable to feminine charms, and one of them could have just killed him, walked away with his wallet and the story would write itself: Assange Killed by Prostitute. Done and done. Why go through all the hassle?

      1. You are assuming a lot more competence from the U.S. State Department than what they are currently capable of. However, the State Department of the 1960’s, would have done it and made it look easy, to boot, but with no more USSR, they’ve lost their edge.

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