back to article WikiLeave? Assange tipped for Ecuadorian eviction

The Ecuadorian government has reportedly sought a plan to end Julian Assange's world's longest couch surfing stint record attempt at its London embassy. Ecuador's foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa told the AFP news agency her country would look to bring in a mediator to help settle the legal dispute that has lead to …

  1. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    Wait... he's still there?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      yes, despite the charges being dropped in Sweden, he still faces charges in the UK.

      Just like anyone other common criminal, he is doing everything he can to avoid capture.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Lost all faith,

        The charges haven't been dropped in Sweden. The less serious sexual assault ones have run out of the 5 year statute of limitations. So I guess that's the same thing.

        But the 2 or 3 rape charges have a 10 year sell-by-date. The Swedish prosecutors haven't dropped the charges.

        They've cancelled the International Arrest Warrant because their courts told them they had to act proportionately, and so cease pursuing the case if there was no chance of making any progress.

        So the IAW is dropped - and half the charges have timed out. But they can attempt to arrest him again, as soon as circumstances change. Like him leaving the embassy.

        Conveniently he's broken bail, so the UK plod have to arrest him for that, so the courts can get their pound of flesh out of him. That gives the Swedes the time they need to re-issue the IAW.

        Unless Julian waits until we've left the EU, and presumably the IAW system?

    2. Aqua Marina

      In 5 years, surely he could have dug a tunnel to freedom with a tablespoon by now.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        "In 5 years, surely he could have dug a tunnel to freedom with a tablespoon by now."

        The embassy is on the first floor. Could be entertaining.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The embassy utilises apartments on the ground floor. The only floor below it is the basement. The embassy isn't the only tenant of the building and all floors are accessible to all by using the stairwell or lift.

          If you read the news article here, you'll see that the police guarded the stairwells and lift in the early days to stop him making a dash up to the roof. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2189749/Threadbare-room-inside-Ecuadorian-embassy-Julian-Assange-hiding.html

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            "The embassy utilises apartments on the ground floor. The only floor below it is the basement. The embassy isn't the only tenant of the building and all floors are accessible to all by using the stairwell or lift.

            If you read the news article here, you'll see that the police guarded the stairwells and lift in the early days to stop him making a dash up to the roof."

            Then how did he appear on the first floor balcony?

        2. iainr

          The french Tunnel in Colditz started at the top of the bell tower.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attempts_to_escape_Oflag_IV-C#The_French_tunnel

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Phil

      More interesting, and what I'm missing from the El Reg article, is why this issue is suddenly taking place and becoming a thing.

      According to another news agency Assange has been engaged in a massive discussion / dispute on Twitter with the Ecudorian president out of all people over the issue in Spain with Catelonia. Apparently Assange is heavily in favor of them becoming independent and Ecuador is against the idea. Leading up to Assange calling out the Ecudorian president on Twitter over this.

      Note: I can't verify this for myself because I don't have a Twitter account nor do I want one. But I do consider my source to be reliable (for whatever that's worth).

      How stupid and/or arrogant do you have to be to pull that off? I mean... He has Ecuador to thank for his limited freedom. And then he goes on to verbally attack them? I seriously fail to understand that part.

      I know that sometimes you uphold ideals and/or morales, and sometimes you stick behind them no matter what. But openly and verbally attacking the main person who is gracious (and gutsy!) enough to help you by granting you asylum and letting you stay on their ground even at the risk of a diplomatic hiatus? And that's how you thank them?

      Sorry... I still think that Wikileaks is/was just the thing we need(ed) (everyone hear of "Don't shoot the messenger?") and it also upsets me that a lot of people are more angry at Assange for exposing all the mishaps instead of getting angry over the idiots who performed all those mishaps in the first place.

      But having said that: I expected better than this.

    4. JohnG Silver badge

      Yes - which is likely longer than any prison sentence he might have served in a relatively comfy Swedish prison - if the Swedes had ever actually charged him, gone to trial and won. He still has to answer for jumping bail in the UK though. Had he left the Ecuadorian embassy (or never entered it) when Obama was in power, he could have been long gone by now - Obama's administration never showed any interest in him. Trump's administration may be a different matter.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "a very respectful way"

    Stuffed in a diplomatic suitcase with a one way ticket to Gitmo ?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: "a very respectful way"

      Smuggled out in Pamela Anderson's cleavage?

      Alright, alright. Calm down. Don't tell me you weren't thinking of it too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "a very respectful way"

      They even went as was as stopping illegally diplomatic planes to get him, under the excuse of the the investigations.

      They deployed Stingrays.

      24x7 vigilance for years.

      C.mon, I dont like the man, but you cant say that they do that for ANYBODY else jumping bail, it is simply not true.

      1. Jon 37

        Re: "a very respectful way"

        For anybody else jumping bail, then either:

        a) they don't know where they are, in which case there's nowhere to stake out, although they will investigate. So they can't run a years-long stakeout OR:

        b) they know where they are and they're in the UK, not in an embassy, in which case they just arrest them, so they don't need to run a years-long stakeout. OR:

        c) they know where they are and they're outside the UK, in which case they will apply for the local police to arrest him and for extradition, but it's not their jurisdiction to run stakeouts.

        So yes, Julian Assange is being treated specially, but that's because the wanted fugitive was granted asylum in a foreign embassy in the UK, which doesn't usually happen. The UK police know they will only get one chance to grab him, if/when he leaves the embassy to head for a boat or plane, and don't want to miss him (because that would be really bad press if nothing else), so they had officers stationed outside waiting for him.

        There's no need to invoke conspiracy theories about them being out to "get him". The only people giving Julian special treatment are the Ecudorians.

      2. Vincent Ballard
        FAIL

        Re: "a very respectful way"

        @AC, no-one stopped diplomatic planes to try to catch Assange. You're confusing him with Snowden.

  3. Daytona955

    He hasn't been in the news much lately...

    It's probably just another way of to pump up his profile/ego a bit.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: He hasn't been in the news much lately...

      My initial thought as well.

      She added that a third country might help out by offering Assange a new couch.

      I don't think I would want to see what the state of the current one is. After 5 years of surfing porn saving Western Civilisation As We Know It from evil dictators I should think that that couch could probably reproduce itself now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He hasn't been in the news much lately...

        After 5 years of surfing porn saving Western Civilisation As We Know It from evil dictators I should think that that couch could probably reproduce itself now

        I suspect it will have to be burned :).

    2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: He hasn't been in the news much lately...

      "It's probably just another way of to pump up his profile/ego a bit."

      Please, Bre'r Fox... Whatever you do, PLEASE don't throw me into that briar patch!!

  4. DougS Silver badge

    Here's a question

    I've always wondered, can't they remove him in a "diplomatic pouch"? Or is being able to smuggle people in/out in crates marked diplomatic a movie trope that doesn't exist in the real world?

    1. Scorchio!!

      Re: Here's a question

      It was tried once; someone tried to kidnap an African politician.This ended in tears ISTR.

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Here's a question

        It has been used on a couple of occasions for kidnap,

        I think you're thinking of the Dikko Affair where a Nigerian exile was drugged and placed in a crate by Mossad agents and employees of the Nigerian embassy in London so that he could be returned to Nigeria for trial.

        Mossad was involved because Nigeria was one of the biggest suppliers of crude oil to Israel which couldn't get it from Arab suppliers, and reciprocated by buying lots of Israeli weapons.

        The crate was not actually labelled as diplomatic bags so the British police were able to open them and find the poor guy. The Nigerian and Israeli kidnappers were all found guilty and sentenced to long prison terms.

    2. ckm5

      Re: Here's a question

      The Israelis have done this more than once. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordechai_Vanunu

    3. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: Here's a question

      They would have to (a) grant him citizenship and (b) give him a diplomatic passport. But then he could only go to Ecuador...

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Here's a question

        He'd probably be a lot happier living in Ecuador rather than living in a couple rooms in an embassy, even if he couldn't leave - I know I would! Presumably he is not destitute, so he could afford his own lodgings there and be self-sufficient. He'd be a lot less dependent on them than he is now, that's for sure!

      2. iainr

        Re: Here's a question

        and C, get him accredited as a diplomat by the UK.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Here's a question

          and C, get him accredited as a diplomat by the UK

          .. which is the reason it'll never happen. He cannot gain diplomatic status (and thus the associated protection) without permission of the host country, and that ain't going to happen.

    4. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: Here's a question

      "can't they remove him in a "diplomatic pouch"?"

      Diplomatic bags are only for documents and "articles for diplomatic use" - not people. If the police work out that there is a person in a diplomatic bag, it ceases to be a diplomatic bag.

    5. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Here's a question

      Yes they could smuggle him out in a diplomatic 'bag', which can be a container or anything. However they just have to take him out under their protection which would prevent the police from detailing him.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Here's a question

        Nope. There is no diplomatic protection to give. if he's outside the embassy, he's fair game. In or out of a diplomatic bag.

        The police are allowed to arrest diplomats, they just can't charge them without permission of their own government. I doubt you're allowed to hold them for long either, and you have to contact their embassy once you've got them.

        As for the ABC thing, the Guardian yesterday say that Ecuador tried it. Some journo found his name on their equivalent of the electoral rolls - meaning he's been given citizenship, if true. And they recently applied to the UK government for a diplomatic visa. Which was refused.

        1. Jove Bronze badge

          Re: Here's a question

          Diplomatic status - all academic now.

          The pressure is now on Ecuador to find a resolution. If the subject does not leave voluntarily, they may have to resort to eviction.

          Either way, it is not going to end happily for him. His detention may also give the governments a vector into wikileaks, which he my need to take into account as he considers his remaining options.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apply for asylum in Iran, get a passport, then he won't be able to get into America, problem solved.

    1. Medixstiff

      Except Iran was known to have taken part in the US' extraordinary rendition practices by handing people over to the CIA to be tortured.

  6. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    He may regret waiting

    He'll have to face the bail-jumping charges in the UK, but once that's done he may discover that hiding out until The Donald was elected was a bad idea. Despite his fears of being extradited to the US I suspect that the Obama administration would have ignored him, to avoid giving him free publicity. Trump, on the other hand, is more than likely to pander to his redneck voters and attempt to make an example of him.

    Of course, maybe that's what the narcissistic St. Julien really wants.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: He may regret waiting

      There's certainly wisdom in "getting it over and done with" whilst the going is good.

      I recall that years ago a US official said that whilst they might not have liked what Assange has done, it was far from clear that he had in fact broken any US law. If you were to apply US law to none US citizens handling US classified material whilst not on US territory, you'd have to have arrest warrants out for members of the KGB, etc. And a whole load of Allied nations would be somewhat wary... And that would be ridiculous.

      1. goodjudge

        Re: He may regret waiting

        "years ago" = pre-Trump. Common sense is not just out of the window, it's running down the street as fast as it can and those in charge are denying it was ever there in the first place.

        Also, there is no statute of limitations on "causing embarrassment to a powerful government". Caused by non-government actors, of course, not what they do to themselves. (Trump, Bojo etc.)

    2. AdamT

      Re: He may regret waiting

      OK, I'm confused. I thought it was generally accepted now that Wikileaks had selectively leaked information to damage the Democrat campaign and and held onto stuff that might have damaged the Trump/Republican campaign. In which case wouldn't they be rather pleased with him?

      Or is this one of those "yes, he helped us but we still don't like him and he probably can't help us any more (especially as the Mueller investigation is uncovering more stuff than Wikileaks held on to)" situations?

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: He may regret waiting

        "OK, I'm confused. I thought it was generally accepted now that Wikileaks had selectively leaked information to damage the Democrat campaign and and held onto stuff that might have damaged the Trump/Republican campaign. In which case wouldn't they be rather pleased with him?"

        Do you think Trump is the type of guy to remember these things with people who helped him to the top?

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: He may regret waiting

          Do you think Trump is the type of guy to remember these things with people who helped him to the top?

          Actually given that he allegedly can't remember the words of the Star Spangled Banner I wouldn't be surprised at all.

          https://www.aol.com/article/news/2018/01/09/did-president-trump-forget-the-words-to-the-national-anthem/23328520/

          1. handleoclast Silver badge

            Re: He may regret waiting

            Actually given that he allegedly can't remember the words of the Star Spangled Banner I wouldn't be surprised at all.

            It wasn't that he couldn't remember the words, it was that he misremembered one word. Every time he got to the bit about the "Star Spangled Bannon" he felt ill.

        2. Joe Montana

          Re: He may regret waiting

          I believe Trump has a reputation for valuing and rewarding loyalty, so it's quite possible he would reciprocate towards someone who provided assistance to him.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: He may regret waiting

            I believe Trump has a reputation for valuing and rewarding loyalty

            Where said value is asymptotically approaching zero?

            1. Swarthy Silver badge

              Re: He may regret waiting

              Trump does value loyalty - to him.

              Rewarding it? Eeeehhh... Not so much.

              Returning loyalty? Hell no.

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: He may regret waiting

        Or is this one of those "yes, he helped us but we still don't like him and he probably can't help us any more (especially as the Mueller investigation is uncovering more stuff than Wikileaks held on to)" situations?.

        In a perfect world, the law would be the law and applied equally. Which would mean that everyone who mishandled classified information would be proscuted equally. But the Democrats don't want that. And the Mueller investigation is uncovering more stuff. Like text messages from FBI counter intelligence people saying they can't let Trump win, and editing text from 'gross negligent' to 'extremely careless', so Peter Strzok and Comey's role in the Clinton campaign. And then for Russian ties, Uranium One, and Bill Clinton's $500k speaking fee and meeting at Putin's home.

        So Assange may be able to help with how he came by various Clinton leaks, but still has his bail jumping and Swedish questions to answer.

      3. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: He may regret waiting

        "OK, I'm confused. I thought it was generally accepted now that Wikileaks had selectively leaked information to damage the Democrat campaign and and held onto stuff that might have damaged the Trump/Republican campaign. In which case wouldn't they be rather pleased with him?"

        To quote Sir Humphrey, "gratitude is merely the lively expectation of favours to come". He's played his part, so throw him to the wolves, might well be their opinion.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: He may regret waiting

          Trump may have been grateful to Assange for the help. But then there were allegations of links between Assange and Moscow. Specifically that Wikileaks got the DNC emails from Russian sources.

          At which point he stopped being a useful ally, and became an embarrassment. At least if enough people believe those allegations - and there's credit to be had by dumping on him.

          So the Trump camp have made a few noises about prosecuting him. But would they really bother? I presume it would need lots of prep work. Unless the Obama administration have already done most/all of it?

          Then again is Assange's fear of US extradition a rational reason for his actions, convenient PR to cover his arse, or the product of genuine paranoia from a man who isn't all that mentally stable? Personally I suspect a bit of all 3...

        2. JohnG Silver badge

          Re: He may regret waiting

          "He's played his part, so throw him to the wolves, might well be their opinion."

          ...and, Assange is a ferriner, not from Murica - and therefore, fair game.

      4. rh587 Bronze badge

        Re: He may regret waiting

        OK, I'm confused. I thought it was generally accepted now that Wikileaks had selectively leaked information to damage the Democrat campaign and and held onto stuff that might have damaged the Trump/Republican campaign. In which case wouldn't they be rather pleased with him?

        Trump can't remember what opinion he held on his breakfast this morning.

        Much less on what Wikileaks may or may not have done during the election campaign. Hell, half his campaign team were gone within a month of taking office.

        Milk lasts longer than his politics.

  7. Unep Eurobats
    Big Brother

    "A third country might offer a new couch"

    But he'd still have to get from couch A to couch B, meaning he could be nabbed en route. Although the Ecuadorian embassy is now no longer under 24-hour surveillance by the police.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

      Not to mention "a human can't live like that - except if it's someone else's couch, then it's quite alright"...?!? WTF?

      1. Swarthy Silver badge

        Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

        "a human can't live like that..." I think that quote was referring to the Ecuadorian diplomats, having been stuck with Assange for 5 years. It was just phrased in such a way that it could be easily misconstrued to apply to their white-haired Human Rights Problem.

    2. 's water music Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

      But he'd still have to get from couch A to couch B, meaning he could be nabbed en route.

      Perhaps the offer was more literal. His current couch must be pretty worn out and stinky by now so maybe the Ecuadorian embassy is crowdfunding a replacement having spunked their own housekeeping budget on tissues and air fresheners.

      Ambassador thinks: 'if only' ------------->

      1. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

        "Perhaps the offer was more literal. His current couch must be pretty worn out and stinky by now so maybe the Ecuadorian embassy is crowdfunding a replacement having spunked their own housekeeping budget on tissues and air fresheners".

        Wouldn't it be ironic if the Swedes sent them an Ikea couch, as a not-so-subtle reminder to little Julian ?

    3. NonSSL-Login

      Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

      "Although the Ecuadorian embassy is now no longer under 24-hour surveillance by the police."

      That's what they want you to think...

      Probably a lovely antique clock on a shelf opposite the Ecuadorian door with a lovely crystal 720p lens, backup up by an in-house informer.

    4. rh587 Bronze badge

      Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

      But he'd still have to get from couch A to couch B, meaning he could be nabbed en route. Although the Ecuadorian embassy is now no longer under 24-hour surveillance by the police.

      If he could go roof-to-roof by helicopter they wouldn't get a chance. You'd struggle to force a helicopter to land in Knightsbridge without copping massive amounts of flack from... well everbody. It would be dangerous for everybody concerned, including innocent pedestrians and bystanders.

      The most you could do is watch as Assange flew from one embassy roof to another and then arrest the pilot when they landed at an actual airport/helipad.

      Of course if that pilot is a foreign national on a diplomatic passport brought in specially for the job, then there's not a whole lot they could make stick - pilot goes home, continues flying in home country, is well paid off for their services.

      1. collinsl

        Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

        Air Traffic control doesn't like helicopters flying anywhere in London except along the Thames (as it's something safe to put the helicopter into if required) and they sure as heck will notice a helicopter coming in disregarding ATC instructions - it'll get shot down by the RAF or otherwise forced to land before it gets on a roof.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

        Of course if that pilot is a foreign national on a diplomatic passport brought in specially for the job, then there's not a whole lot they could make stick

        Diplomatic immunity doesn't work like that. You don't just get a diplomatic passport and a free chance to go anywhere and do anything you want.

        Diplomatic immunity has to be granted in advance.

        Although there are circumstances where it applies to people in transit (such as to UN meetings) so the US can't stop people it doesn't like going to the UN - even though it's in New York.

        That's why Ecuador can't just give Assange one of their own diplomatic passports and that be a get out of jail free card.

        A country could get a normal diplomatic posting for someone who just happened to be a chopper pilot though, but the FCO might expel a bunch of their diplomats in a fit of pique for a stunt like that.

        1. ckm5

          Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

          Technically, as soon as you are issued a diplomatic visa for the country you are going to, you are granted diplomatic immunity. Theoretically you need to 'preset your papers' to the local foreign ministry, but in practice just the issuance of a diplomatic visa is enough. Most countries will just issue a diplomatic visa as a matter of course - you often need them when traveling from A to B....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

            Technically, as soon as you are issued a diplomatic visa for the country you are going to, you are granted diplomatic immunity.

            And who, pray, issues that visa?

            :)

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

              And who, pray, issues that visa?

              Turns out the UK doesn't...

              The Guardian had a report that Ecuador recently applied for a diplomatic visa for Assange - and the government refused. As was rather political.

              I think the FCO feel that there's no particular cost in him hanging out there. But Ecuador pissed them off, and made a great song-and-dance about doing it. So they're not going to give them any help to get out of the situation. And force them to back down publicly and kick him out, or put up with him.

  8. tiggity Silver badge

    A mere 5 years couch surfing

    I know lots of Aussies who can beat that (albeit not the same couch for the whole duration)

  9. SMabille

    Don't rape

    Next time, someone asks you to put a condom, just do it. don't pretend you did.

    You will avoid rape charge!

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Don't rape

      Or just don't have sex with them. You always have that choice.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't rape

        Or just don't have sex with them. You always have that choice.

        Not if they do it while you're still asleep, which is one of the two charges levelled against Assange.

  10. John Doe 12

    I just had a look at Google Streetview and I count no less than EIGHT cops lurking outside the Ecuadoran embassy in September 2012!! What the hell - is this guy Bin Laden's brother or WHAT?!!

    https://goo.gl/maps/Qf2z91JZoUK2

    1. NonSSL-Login

      You missed the 9th one down the cul-de-sac at the side.

      1. John Doe 12

        WOW! Well spotted that man :-D It took me 5 minutes to find him - literally "where's wally". Only the tit on his head gives him away.

        1. John Doe 12

          Ok - updating this. I think I am giving you undue credit :P There are TWO cops lurking down the alleyway - can you find the second one?? Making a total of TEN in all.

    2. rh587 Bronze badge

      no less than EIGHT cops lurking outside the Ecuadoran embassy in September 2012!!

      It did make me wonder why they didn't just pay off the doormen at Harrods to keep an eye out (one of the public entrances has line of sight to the Embassy).

      Give them a panic button to push if they see Julian - he's hardly an inconspicuous fellow - and he wouldn't get to the end of the street before Police were on top of him. This is Knightsbridge after all, the rozzers aren't going to be far away.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @John

      "is this guy Bin Laden's brother or WHAT?!!"

      No, but it's the easiest money those police officers will ever make.

  11. Cuddles Silver badge

    It's not complicated

    "we are searching in a very respectful way with the United Kingdom ... for a solution"

    The solution is to show him the door. He will be arrested, his alleged crimes investigated, and then he will be either prosecuted or released depending on the results. That's how the justice system works, both in the UK and Ecuador. The only part of the whole thing lacking in respect is hiding a common criminal for 5 years for no apparent reason.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: It's not complicated

      He's already definitely guilty of at least one crime in the UK: bail jumping.

      You can read the sentencing guidelines here, I suspect he'll get close to the full whack of three months in jail.

      Apart from that, I dan't know what else they could charge him with, except possibly wasting police time?

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: It's not complicated

        Apart from that, I dan't know what else they could charge him with, except possibly wasting police time?

        Wasting Police time?

        They didn't have to hang around en masse on a London Street for five years - blew the community policing budget probably - and we wonder why there are no 'bobbies on the beat' anymore?

        They are all hanging around an embassy..

        Police wasting their own time - it's not as if he [Julian] isn't recognisable by at least half the country by now - even if most just think he looks vaguely familiar cause he is not on strictly dancing every week....

        I don't want much, just the UK to get it's nose out the US butt, brown nosing, grow some principles England used to be famous for, and a backbone. Very good at thumbing it to Europe, but a voice comes on the phone from Washington and they can't get obsequious quick enough...

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: It's not complicated

      Cuddles,

      In South America this might well be resolved by a mediator.

      They recognise the practise of "diplomatic asylum". So when the military coup happens, various members of the deposed government run for friendly embassies. Then if the coup is put down, they're on hand to pop back out and resume governing. But if it succeeds, they hang around there for a bit, until a deal is done and they go into exile.

      Military coups haven't been so widespread as they used to be in South America, but this still happens. The idea is that it's a lot better than being strung up from a lamppost, and as you're government might itself get overthrown, there's an incentive to keep that fall-back position open.

      However diplomatic asylum isn't recognised in the Vienna Conventions. Which are the international law on diplomacy. And it's not something the Foreign Office holds with. According to my favourite UK ex-ambassador, Charles Crawford, FCO guidelines are to usher such people out of your embassy as fast as possible to avoid massive embarassment to both you and your host country. An ambassador can't be a discrete source of information and communication with between governments when he's personally involved in a noisy public dispute. Especially one that rudely exploits his embassy's diplomatic status to embarrass his host government - and make political trouble for them.

  12. DrXym Silver badge

    Entirely self inflicted

    Everything that has happened to Assange, including his self imposed stay in an embassy is completely self-inflicted. I don't see that Ecuador, the UK, Sweden, or the USA should have a shred of sympathy for his plight.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Zippy's Sausage Factory
    Paris Hilton

    I wonder if is this going to be horrible for Trump and uk.gov?

    If he IS a Russian agent, if he's arrested, Wikileaks can start dumping kompromat on a daily drip drip drip basis, can't they? Or another "insurance" cache appears just before he leaves, maybe?

    My suspicion is Trump might just pardon him for everything beforehand, just in case...

    Paris, again, because this needs a "WTF is going on" icon...

  15. PapaD

    Whats so inhumane

    About someone voluntarily remaining under 'house arrest' in a luxury accommodation, for free, with full internet access.

    I'm guessing he spends his days watching TV, browsing the internet and playing games - pretty much a dream lifestyle for most teenagers in the UK.

    1. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: Whats so inhumane

      He might have had better facilities and more space in a Swedish prison.

  16. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

    hang on a moment...

    Time to invite the downvotes.

    "...Jeff Sessions said the Trump administration would indeed file and proceed with charges against Assange should he be arrested."

    " ...UK authorities have repeatedly said they'll nab Assange if he leaves. And as the UK and USA share an extradition treaty, that's not good news for the white-haired information warrior..."

    Are we finally and really admitting that Assanges original stance of "I can't go outside, I'll end up being swiped by the US" is actually, potentially true? That's a bit of a 180 for not only The Reg but for a lot of other commentators on the subject.

    *ducks and covers*

    1. PNGuinn
      FAIL

      Re: hang on a moment...

      What utter bo$$0$$*s.

      Trolling for downvotes are we? Have another upvote.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: hang on a moment...

      Its probably more true now than it ever was - but nowhere near a dead cert.

      To be fair not even St Julien could have predicted Trump would get in the White House and WikiLeaks interfering in the US election just stirred everything up again.

      Once again his desire for self publicity and gratification gets him in trouble - story of his life - muppet needs a hefty wallop with a clue stick. Unfortunately if he's not careful a good clue sticking will be the least of his problems.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: hang on a moment...

      Bernard M. Orwell,

      Different El Reg writers have been more or less sympathetic to Assange. So it's not like they've taken an editorial line on him. But Sessions has said that, so they reported it. Not that everything Trump's lot say is actually likely to happen.

      There was talk of a secret grand jury being convened under Obama, and also suggestions during the Manning court martial that they were getting evidence on Assange. Doesn't neccessarily mean anything will come of it though.

      The prosecution submission alleged that Manning was getting technical help from Assange on how to get the information off the army servers. That I believe would count as espionage. If they could get him, that's anything up to the death sentence. If all they can prove is that Manning handed the leaks to Assange, then Assange is basically covered as a journalist, and is safe.

    4. Lomax

      Re: hang on a moment...

      > Are we finally and really admitting that Assanges original stance of "I can't go outside, I'll end up being swiped by the US" is actually, potentially true? That's a bit of a 180 for not only The Reg but for a lot of other commentators on the subject.

      This was my immediate thought when reading the article. There is a conspicuous lack of recognition of this implicit admission, here and elsewhere.

    5. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: hang on a moment...

      Well, that is the case now Donald's in charge. Had he just faced the Swedish investigators in the first place, he would most likely have had no conviction. If he had been convicted, the sentence would probably have been less than two years - in a comfy Swedish prison. He could have been out when Obama was still in charge - and that administration really wasn't interested in him.

  17. sysconfig
    Joke

    Poor living standards...

    A person cannot live forever in these conditions...

    So the Ecuadorian Embassy is one of the less comfortable Knightsbridge accommodations then?

  18. Kirk Northrop

    I do wonder if he could just leave unhindered. I believe the UK were at one point on the record as having said "Mr Assange is free to leave at any time" or something similar.

    So he leaves, gets driven to a private airport, and off he goes. And the UK will turn a blind eye because they don't really want him here either...

    1. PNGuinn
      Happy

      Free to leave ...

      "I do wonder if he could just leave unhindered. I believe the UK were at one point on the record as having said "Mr Assange is free to leave at any time" or something similar."

      Of course he's free to leave. Whenever he wants. (Unless the relevant embassy want paying for a new sofa first ...)

      And the English plod are free to nab him when he does.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      The UK is being entirely honest here - no one in the police is stopping Assange from leaving the embassy.

      What they are not saying is that he will be immediately arrested for the crime of jumping bail.

      1. iainr

        No they are very specifically saying that, and have been clear about it since day one

        A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said that ...

        "Westminster Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Julian Assange following him failing to surrender to the court on the 29 June 2012," a statement said.

        "The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy."http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/julian-assange-arrest-leave-ecuador-embassy-metropolitan-police-london-wikileaks-sweden-drop-a7744231.html

  19. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "From a human point of view, [it] is not sustainable,"

    Indeed, being in such proximity to such a massive twat for such a long time is criminal.

    Save the Ecuadorian people ! Throw the twat out !

  20. Velv Silver badge
    Go

    Simple answer.

    Have him plead guilty to bail jumping via letter from the Ecuador Embassy.

    Have the judge give him whatever custodial sentence, but state he has spent more time confined in the Ecuador Embassy so has "served his time".

    Immediately deport him to his home country of Australia.

    Leave it up to the Australians to decide if they'll permit his extradition to the USA or Sweden.

    1. Seajay#

      But he hasn't been confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy. He has been there voluntarily. You can take in to account time served in pre-trial custody but you can't (and wouldn't want to) take in to account time on the run (which is what he currently is). If you did that, it would encourage people to jump bail which is precisely the opposite of the point of the laws around bail.

      Maintaining respect for the law around bail is far more important than the fate of this one guy.

      1. rh587 Bronze badge

        Maintaining respect for the law around bail is far more important than the fate of this one guy.

        As true as this is, most people who have skipped bail in the UK are UK citizens.

        In the case of Assange, enter a guilty plea in absentia, judge deems his time in the Embassy to be equivalent to house arrest, and he is immediately deported to Australia with no prospect of re-entry to the UK. Deportation could be considered adequate punishment and would certainly be the fiscally responsible thing to do for the UK taxpayer.

        It doesn't undermine the 99% of other bail cases where deportation is not an option.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Fuck that. Why should Assange get special treatment?

          It's also not legal. The Foreign Office do not have the power to tell the police who to arrest, or not to - and nor do they have the power to tell the courts to issue a particular judgement.

          Not that "quiet words" can't be had - but why waste political capital on this. He can just sit there and rot, until he comes to his senses, or he's waited out the Swedish statue of limitations. Particularly as it sets a bad precedent.

          On the flipside, not only can the FCO not tell the police what to do. But they also don't have to pay for police budgets.

          It appears that Blair's governmet did illegally give letters of assurance to certain IRA people that they wouldn't be prosecuted. Which we know about because one bloke used his a couple of years ago, even though it had been given to him in error. However that was done in the cause of peace in Northern Ireland - which is important. Julian Assange is not.

        2. iainr

          I suspect procedurally that's not possible, he's been in front of a judge and promised to appear when summonsed and then basically raised two fingers to the judge. Judges tend not to take that sort of action lightly as the people who put up his bail found out when they put forward the, quite possibly honest, defence that they had no idea that Assange was going to drop them in the shit. there's no judge going to set up a court hearing on a bail jumper and then not have the satisfaction of having the jumper stood in the dock whilst they tear strips off them.

    2. JohnG Silver badge

      "Have him plead guilty to bail jumping via letter from the Ecuador Embassy."

      The justice system doesn't work like that. The court dictates to the accused, not the other way around.

  21. Jove Bronze badge

    Not sure what could be negotiated.

    In most similar cases, exile or death of the fugitive seem to have been the means of resolution to the situation.

    Many organisations would not want either given his associations, both known and alleged, with various organisations.

    Possibly the most likely outcomes are one of forced eviction by Ecuador, surrender to UK authorities due external constraints (engineered or otherwise), or ill health requiring hospitalisation.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      In South America this is standard practise. El Presidente runs to a friendly embassy during coup. Claims diplomatic asylum, and avoids getting strung up by the mob. The new regime surround the embassy and demand his release for trial. A month later an emissary from the Pope turns up, and quietly negotiates a swift exit to exile in a third country on a private plane.

      I don't think many countries outside South America practise diplomatic asylum though. It's not in the Vienna Conventions, so isn't covered by international law.

  22. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Time for a chat ...

    Talk to the UK judiciary, agree that on 'his' release they'll decide that, since charges are no longer pending, the original arrest warrant is no longer valid thus the 'jumping bail' condition is equally invalid. Job done.

    Walks out a free man until he's involved in a fatal car accident ...

    1. Seajay#

      Re: Time for a chat ...

      Why would the UK judiciary agree to that? Even if they were able to deviate from the law for this one person, why would they want to?

      Either Ecuador host him for ever or he eventually walks out, pays for his crime of jumping bail, then gets extradited to whoever wants him. Either of those options are fine for the UK. Why would we feel the need to make some sort of shady deal?

      One of those options is a PITA for Ecuador so I can see why they want to make a deal, but they aren't holding any cards.

      1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

        Re: Time for a chat ...

        "One of those options is a PITA for Ecuador so I can see why they want to make a deal, but they aren't holding any cards."

        Can't Ecuador relocate their embassy and just leave the couch there, with him on it? Or 'shut down' their embassy to the UK for about 5 minutes - just long enough for him to be arrested/removed?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Time for a chat ...

          Yup. Ecuador can abandon him any time. But that's embarrasssing since they made such a song-and-dance about how he was a wronged hero of the people who they were heroically standing up for!

          Now they'd look weak and pathetic for backing down. Hence they've been trying to get a face-saving deal out of the Foreign Office for about 4 years.

          But the FCO aren't offering one. Policing ain't out of their budget guv. So it's no skin off their rosy nose whatever happens. And sets a bad precedent if they do something shady, for no particular gain.

    2. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: Time for a chat ...

      "they'll decide that, since charges are no longer pending, the original arrest warrant is no longer valid thus the 'jumping bail' condition is equally invalid"

      No, they won't because he did actually jump bail - effectively, treating the court with contempt. It is a bit like saying, I shouldn't have to pay a parking fine because the car concerned has since been scrapped. It isn't how the law works.

  23. CloudWrangler
    WTF?

    The Emperor has no clothes?

    What nobody has ever made clear to my satisfaction is why the whole rigmarole about Assange not wanting to be extradited to Sweden due to the risk of them then turning around and extraditing him to the US, when the UK and US are way more diplomatically pally. If the US has a case against him, where is the extradition request for that? They have no reason at all to wait for another country to charge him with other crimes. Now that Sweden seems to have given up on the whole affair, it looks like at present that the UK is the only country who wants a piece of him, for not complying with a court order.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The Emperor has no clothes?

      The rape charges still stand in Sweden. For the next 4 years or so, til the statute of limitations runs out on them.

      They've just given up persuing it.

      They can get the old European Arrest Warrant out of the filing cabinet, dust it off, cross out the charges that have expired and get it faxed to the Met in an hour or so. If he's in the cells overnight awaiting his bail-jumping hearing, that's enough time.

      So he can't leave, if he wants to avoid going to Sweden. Short of being smuggled out - at which point we might get pissed off and expel Ecuador's ambassador for doing it.

  24. Paul Westerman
    Go

    He could do with some fresh air

    Looking a bit peaky isn't he?

    1. Oz
      Black Helicopters

      Re: He could do with some fresh air

      Aye, a walk round the block should cure what ails him!

  25. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    There IS a more-or-less plausible solution...

    Mr. Assange renounces Australian citizenship and becomes an Ecuadorian citizen. He is then hired as an Ecuadorian diplomat. He then leaves under diplomatic protection (remember the Iranian Embassy fiasco). Problem solved! I should do this professionally!

    1. Jove Bronze badge

      Re: There IS a more-or-less plausible solution...

      USA takes out Diplomatic sanctions against Ecuador for assisting an enemy of the state, UK imposes limitations UK mission.

      Not that simple when their are the hidden downsides, and the idiot is an embarrassment to all concerned.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There IS a more-or-less plausible solution...

      He is then hired as an Ecuadorian diplomat. He then leaves under diplomatic protection

      You're missing a step of the process out, namely accreditation. If Ecuador name him as a diplomat to the UK the Home Office (if memory serves, could be Foreign) have to approve the appointment before he gets immunity.

      See the problem?

  26. HamsterNet

    can somebody please

    Cant we just a little fire incident in the building. Fire service called and everybody evacuated - with Lestrange probably by a little bit of force under the pretext of safety.

    One little drone with a flare and long fuse should do it... One copper in the building pulling the fire alarm at a push.

    Once he's gone maybe Wikileaks can go back to being well useful.

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: can somebody please

      The small fire thing is pretty much how I've always expected this to end.

      AFAIK, and I'm certainly not a lawyer, the bail jumping offence is complete - he didn't report to the court and so is liable to immediate arrest and detention- the odds of getting bail for any hearing ever again are basically nil.

      I do wonder what international convention is for people hiding in an embassy if natural or other disasters force an evacuation. It's not like they can drive a diplomatic vehicle in there - there's no garage. Presumably he'd simply be collected and detained?

      The stupidity of fleeing Sweden for the UK because you claim to be worried about extradition to the USA is beyond my comprehension. If I was worried about extradition to the UK, Sweden is the EU country I'd be most likely to flee too. Russia would be my preferred destination ala Snowden. Spend all day drinking Vodka in the Kermlin then all night banging Anna Chapman like a big bass drum. It's got to be better than a couch.....

      1. s2bu

        Re: can somebody please

        Have an upvote just for the vodka & Anna Chapman references!

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: can somebody please

        Had he stayed in Sweden, there would have been a chance to go free, and worst case he would have gone to a comfortable jail and would be set free long ago. I mean in the uk we just had a monster leave jail after eight years, Assange would be nowhere near that.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Escape Plan?

    A thousand people who match his physical description (weight, height, clothing) all exit at the same time wearing masks, then split to travel to all friendly embassies? Odds are good if he's one in the crowd and it'd be tough to nab everyone entering another embassy?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Ecuadorian government would need to maintain they had no involvement.

      Stage a fake incident nearby to distract the plod?

      Arrange a mob of "angry citizens" to raid the embassy and citizens-arrest him, but get the wrong guy?

      Jump onto a mobile bouncy castle driving past at 3AM?

  28. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Third Country

    ... for a solution." She added that a third country might help out by offering Assange a new couch.

    Now, let's see...

    Which country does not have an extradition treaty with the UK or USA? And would also like to take the opportunity to annoy the USA, and has an Embassy in London?

    How about North Korea? I am sure Kim Jong-Un would be game. He would have to give Assange some sort of diplomatic cover, and in return Assange could buy crate loads of Ferrero Rocher for the fat one...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple

    Just add him to the roster for putting out the bins on Wednesday evening.

    Gotcha!

  30. Brian Allan 1

    The USA should be furious their security allowed this data leak. Assange should be given a medal for showing the holes in the US system(s).

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