Photo: nick.hider via flickr
Rafael Correa warned such a provocative precedent would leave British embassies across the world facing similar “violating” moves by foreign governments.In an interview with his country’s state television, Mr Correa continued his strong rhetoric suggesting the diplomatic impasse with Britain was no closer to being solved.
He said that because British diplomats had yet to apologise or retract its threat to enter the central London embassy, the “danger still exists”.
He condemned Britain for threatening to invade the embassy and seize Mr Assange, in a move he described as “intolerable”.
While his government was “open to dialogue”, he insisted Britain was maintaining an “intransigent” position.
Mr Assange is at the centre of a diplomatic row involving six countries on five continents, having skipped bail to avoid extradition to Sweden. Mr Correa said he was prepared to take the issue to the United Nations.
“It would be a suicide for the United Kingdom to enter the Ecuadorean embassy because then people could enter their diplomatic premises all around the world and they wouldn’t be able to say a thing,” Mr Correa told ECTV public television last night.
“It will be a precedent that would allow later on for the diplomatic premises of [the UK] in other territories to be violated in every corner of the planet.
“While the United Kingdom hasn’t retracted nor apologised, the danger still exists.”
He added: “The British say they have no choice but to extradite him but why didn’t they extradite Augusto Pinochet?”
The Foreign Office (FCO) has insisted it will not grant Mr Assange “safe passage” to Ecuador as it seeks a diplomatic solution to him being given asylum.
A FCO spokesman said today: “We are considering a range of issues and diplomatic options to solve the situation and the [president’s] comments don’t change that.
“We have a legal obligation to arrest Mr Assange which we plan to fulfil. That remains our position.”
It came as hundreds of Ecuadoreans marched in support of the government’s decision to grant asylum to Mr Assange.
Mr Assange, 41, emerged from the Ecuadorean embassy on Sunday to denounce Britain’s role in the diplomatic dispute about his extradition.
He praised his hosts for their “courageous” stand for justice and accused Britain of threatening to “throw away the Vienna Convention”.
Mr Assange, who is wanted in Sweden on allegations of serious sexual assault, has been warned that he faces immediate arrest if he steps outside the embassy, behind Harrods in Knightsbridge.
The former computer hacker taunted police who were guarding the premises and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, as he appeared on a balcony to address hundreds of supporters.
In a 10 minute address he thanked his supporters, claiming if they had not been there police would have stormed the building in breach of international conventions.
Mr Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador after its ministers agreed that he risked possible extradition to the US, where he could face the death penalty if found guilty of leaking thousands of military cables.
Before airing comments by Mr Correa, state television aired a report showing the moments before Mr Assange’s dramatic balcony statement in which Mr Assange hugged his lawyer, the former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon.
Mr Correa said Ecuador was hoping for strong support from a meeting of the Organisation of American States later this week, the BBC reported.
“Remember that David beat Goliath. And with many Davids it’s easier to bring down a number of Goliaths,” he said.
“So we’re hoping for clear and coherent backing because this violates all inter-American law, all international law, the Vienna Convention and all diplomatic traditions of the last, at least, 300 years on a global scale.”
His comments came just hours after Britain was warned by Venezuela that it would face “strong responses” if it “violated the sovereignty” of Ecuador’s embassy to end the asylum of Mr Assange.
Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, warned of unspecified consequences should the authorities enter the embassy to comply with an extradition request made by Sweden, where the WikiLeaks founder is wanted for questioning on sexual assault charges.
Mr Chavez, a vociferous Left – wing critic of the US, is one of a number of Latin American leaders to have backed Ecuador’s decision to grant the Australian asylum.
Also speaking on state television, Mr Chavez said: “I suggest the UK thinks long and hard.
“There would be strong responses if they violate the sovereignty of the embassy. We’re preparing measures which we won’t be announcing beforehand.”
Yesterday, the Government pledged to extradite Mr Assange, saying it was its “obligation”.
Downing Street said Mr Assange would not be granted safe passage to Ecuador, but it was trying to find a diplomatic solution.
“Under our law, having exhausted all the options of appeal, we are obliged to extradite him to Sweden. It is our intention to carry out that obligation,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.
The United States accused the WikiLeaks founder of making “wild assertions” about an alleged U.S. vendetta against him to deflect attention from rape allegations he faces in Sweden.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland dismissed Mr Assange’s latest broadside.
“He is making all kinds of wild assertions about us,” she said, adding that his current legal problems stemmed from allegations of sexual misconduct and were unrelated to the WikiLeaks case.
A supporter of Mr Assange last night sparked anger by appearing to name one of the alleged victims on BBC 2’s Newsnight.
Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, said: “I think incidents which are dubious themselves as to what has happened, and Julian Assange has denied the accusations against him, are being seized on as a political agenda.
“It’s well worth people going online to discover what they can about the allegations, about how they were made, who made them, what the people who made them did afterwards, and look at what happened.
Mr Murray named an alleged victim, claiming the name was in general circulation, but was challenged by host Gavin Esler.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.