Posted On Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 09:56:42 AM
|A poster outside the Ecuadorian Embassy where Julian Assange is holed up
A lawyer representing Julian Assange has said that the WikiLeaks founder will take Britain to the United Nation’s International Court of Justice if it refuses to grant him safe passage to Ecuador.
The threat to appeal to the world court came after UK Foreign Secretary William Hague promised that Britain will arrest Assange if he tries to leave the Ecuadorean Embassy.
Assange has taken refuge in the embassy for the last two months to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual assault. Britain threatened it will use ararely cited law to revoke the embassy’s diplomatic protection, and will barge in if Ecuador did not hand over Assange, according to The Telegraph.
Baltasar Garzon, Assange’s lawyer, told the Spanish newspaper El Pais that Britain was acting far beyond its authority because Assange was a political refugee accepted for asylum by a sovereign nation and the UK was obligated to honour that.
“They have to comply with diplomatic and legal obligations under the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and respect the sovereignty of a country that has granted asylum,” he said. “If Britain doesn’t comply, we will go before International Court of Justice to demand that Britain complies with its obligations because there is a person who runs the risk of being persecuted politically,” he added.
US not to recognise Asylum
The US government has refused to recognise the diplomatic asylum that Ecuador granted to Assange as the Organization of American States (OAS) considers convening a meeting on the issue.
“The US is not a party to the 1954 OAS Convention on Diplomatic Asylum and does not recognise the concept of diplomatic asylum as a matter of international law,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. “We believe this is a bilateral issue between Ecuador and UK and that the OAS has no role to play,” the spokesperson added.
According to the OAS website, the organisation is considering convening a foreign ministerial meeting on August 23 in Washington on the issue which has triggered a diplomatic row between Quito and London.
Assange prepares to face media
Meanwhile, holed up nearly two months, Assange is preparing to face the world’s media on Sunday to deliver a first statement since March. WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson did not share details of how the appearance by Assange, scheduled for 1300 GMT Sunday, will take place amid possibility he could be arrested. “I don’t have details on how it will be carried out,” Hrafnsson said.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the embassy building's common areas such as its stairwells were considered British territory. An appearance by Assange here could therefore lead to his arrest, raising speculation that he would speak from a balcony.