Seven a.m. turned out to be too uncivilized for the Ecuadorians. The official word came down around 8:30. Because they fear for Mr. Assange’s human rights, Ecuador will continue to grant asylum to Julian Assange in their embassy in London, at least until they figure out how to teleport him to the inside of a diplomatic plane to leave the country, or the United Kingdom invokes The Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987 and kicks the Ecuadorians out of London.
Ecuadorian Foreign Minister announced that his government believes that Assange’s fear of political persecution is “legitmate,” they are upholding their “tradition” of protecting the vulnerable and they trust that their friendship with the UK will continue.
Outside the embassy, BBC correspondent James Robbins reported that Assange’s fans, a “crowd” estimated at fifteen warm bodies, who have been clashing with London police since last night, were “delighted” by the announcement.
Ecuador has inserted itself into a legal proceeding between Great Britain and Sweden that has nothing to do with the United States and in which the United States has shown no interest. Ecuador wants to “punish” the United States for a WikiLeaks released document in which our ambassador reported to Washington the depth and length of Ecuador’s police corruption. Our secret cable, released by WikiLeaks, embarrassed Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, so he wants to embarrass the United States by “protecting” a man we don’t want, haven’t filed any criminal charges against, and could not prosecute unless proof were discovered that he personally had hacked into the State Department and Pentagon systems or coerced Pfc. Bradley Manning into stealing the documents, the way he coerced one of those Swedish women into unprotected sex.
This drama is a legacy of the Bush/Cheney administration and their policies of rendition and torture. Bush and Cheney have been out of office for nearly four years. Even they weren’t stupid enough to try to Gitmo an international celebrity or assassinate one. And that’s all Assange is – a celebrity. He’s no more relevant to international affairs these days than Lindsey Lohan’s unsupported boobs in a squishy bathing suit.
We are slowly prosecuting Bradley Manning and the probability is no death sentence will be sought because of the military’s culpability in keeping him in uniform after determining that he was unfit for service. Manning’s accusations that he was “tortured” in Quantico’s detention block have been proven false. He wasn’t held in “solitary.” Quantico only has single-occupancy cells. He repeatedly voluntarily engaged in the behavior that put him on suicide watch, which resulted in his being stripped of any means to commit suicide. Like Assange, Manning is really good at finding gullible idiots who will believe any outrageous accusation about America because of Bush/Cheney. Manning is in the general population at Leavenworth now.
Britain and Sweden will have to decide what to do now. Britain can legally shut the Ecuadorian embassy, eject their ambassador and terminate all relations with Ecuador. Ecuador agreed to the terms of the DCP Act, and is in violation of that agreement. Sweden can decide to eject Ecuador’s ambassador to that country. Since the extradition was done within the parameters of EU accords, the UK and Sweden can appeal to the EU for actions against Ecuador.
And the United States can do what it has been doing for the past two years — sit back, keep silent, and stay out of it. Assange has proven to be his own worst enemy. He has bankrupted WikiLeaks. The most explosive material they have managed to get their hands on for the past two years is a set of personal e-mails from Syria that detail President al-Assad’s iTunes purchases (sappy love songs) and First Lady Asma’ addiction to designer shoes. Almost all the high level members of WikiLeaks have moved on. Assange has irritated his high-rolling patrons with this latest stunt and they are looking at how much he has cost them for the past two years. Even if Assange is allowed to live out his pathetic life inside that embassy, he is done. He has traded a very nice jail cell in Sweden for a tiny room in the Ecuadorian embassy where the sun don’t shine and he can’t swing a cat and he has to share a john with the staff. He has no power.