The Foreign Office’s threat to lift the Ecuadorian Embassy’s diplomatic status over the Assange affair is a disgrace. As Carl Gardner points out the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 permits the Secretary of State to withdraw diplomatic recognition from premises for various reasons but ONLY “if he is satisfied that to do so is permissible under international law” – and, in this case, that means the Vienna Convention which requires the UK government to facilitate the acquisition of suitable premises.
It’s impossible to believe that the Government would indulge in such heavy-handed tactics if the affair was really about an incident originally described by the Swedish police as “not a serious enough crime for an arrest warrant.” What it’s really about is perverting the rule of law for the convenience of an American administration which has been embarrassed by Assange’s activities, wants revenge and is leaning on everyone to get its hands on him. It’s about a President who is determined to do away with due process and suspend Habeas Corpus all in the name of the War on Terror but really to suppress dissent.
One way and another the UK is heading down a legal and ethical rabbit hole if it persists with this course.
All in all, the UK government has set out on a foolish and ill-considered path. If it continues it will put Britain in the same class as Mugabe’s Zimbabwe which flouted international norms by opening a British diplomatic bag a few years ago. Does William Hague really wanted to be classed, along with Mugabe, as someone with no regard for the laws and norms of civilisation?