In response to this move, Britain had made a threat of using a rarely cited law. If used, this law would revoke the embassy’s diplomatic protection and give Britain a chance to barge into the embassy. This threat was made to Ecuador as warning to make them hand over Mr. Assange.
United Kingdom’s ambassador to Russia from 2004 to 2008, Sir Tony Brenton, stated that the move would cause more harm than good. He further said that ‘arbitrarily’ overturning the current status of the building where Mr. Assange is seeking refuge and going ahead with the extradition would have some adverse effects to Britain’s relations overseas. Sir Brenton argued that life for diplomats who were in foreign countries would become practically ‘impossible’. However, embassies are not completely exempt from the jurisdiction of the country they are staying in and they are not considered as sovereign territory of the state they represent.
Mr. Baltasar Garzon is the lawyer representing Mr. Assange. He said Britain was acting far beyond the authority it had. He added that his client was a political refugee who was granted asylum by a foreign state. As this was the case, Britain was under obligation to honor this situation. Baltasar Garzon came to the international limelight when he indicted Augusto Pinochet (a Chilean ex-dictator) in 1998.
The refugee convention sets out the responsibilities of states that grant asylum, rights of any individuals granted asylum and defines who a refugee is. Special travel is also arranged and provided to any refuges that are granted asylum under the convention. There are other provisions that the convention provides for such people which Mr. Assange is considered to be covered by.
Mr. Assange has given his argument to the effect that extradition to Sweden is a ploy to for him to be sent to the US. In the United States, authorities were incensed by 2010’s WikiLeaks release of almost 400,000 secret US documents on the Iraqi war, more than 75,000 classified documents on the Afghan conflict and many other documents that were considered to be sensitive. Ecuador has agreed the evidence and argument presented by Mr. Assange is strong and that is why they have granted him asylum.