Julian Assange and Law of Diplomatic Immunities


Extract from ASIL Insight: On June 19, 2012, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, walked into Ecuador’s embassy in London and requested diplomatic asylum from the Ecuadorian government. Assange’s aim in seeking asylum was to prevent the U.K. from extraditing him to Sweden, where he is wanted by the Prosecution Authority for questioning in relation to allegations of sexual molestation and rape. The decision to seek asylum followed a protracted court battle in the U.K., ending with the decision of the U.K. Supreme Court in Assange v Swedish Prosecuting Authority wherein the majority upheld the European Arrest Warrant issued pursuant to the Extradition Act 2003 (U.K.), seeking the arrest and surrender of Assange. While Assange’s immediate concern was to prevent extradition to Sweden, it is reported that his underlying fear is extradition from Sweden to the United States on charges relating to the activities of WikiLeaks.

Nearly two months after Assange, an Australian national, entered the embassy, the Ecuadorian government announced that it would grant him asylum, citing concerns that if he was extradited to the United States, he could face trial by a military court, cruel and degrading treatment, and life imprisonment or capital punishment.

In response, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague stated that the U.K. was “determined to carry out [its] legal obligation to see Julian Assange extradited to Sweden,” resulting in a diplomatic standoff.

Read  “Assange and Law of Diplomatic Immunities” (ASIL Insight) on the legal issues raised by the grant of asylum and Assange’s continued residence in the Ecuadorian Embassy.


Additional Reading

“Diplomatic Assylum for Julian Assange?”, EJIL Talk!

“The Julian Assange Affair: May the UK Terminate the Diplomatic Status of Ecuador’s Embassy?” EJIL Talk!

International/ National Treaties/Laws of Relevance

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations

UK Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987

Convention on Diplomatic Assylum of OAS


 © Ruwanthika Gunaratne and Public International Law at https://ruwanthikagunaratne.wordpress.com, 2008 – present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ruwanthika Gunaratne and Public International Law with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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