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latest news for 19 May 2013
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Assange may have to give himself up or never leave the embassy - June-21-12
Source: The Times - Law
Julian Assange is unlikely to be able to evade arrest for long by seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy, an extradition expert predicted.
If he is granted permanent asylum then he faces real difficulties in getting to Ecuador or having to “remain permanently in the embassy”, Rebecca Niblock, an extradition lawyer at the London law firm Kingsley Napley, said.
“How would be get to the airport? He could go in a diplomatic car, and that would give him protection under the Vienna Convention, but at some point he would have to leave the car and then he would be at risk of arrest.”
The other option is that Ecuador rejects his claim, in line with its indication not to interfere with the judicial decisions of the UK courts.
“In that case he could be handed over to the police,” she said.
Another extradition expert, Julian Knowles, QC of Matrix Chambers, said: “This is just a desperate measure. He would have to show that he is at risk of persecution in Australia, his home country, under the Refugee Convention.
“But here is a guy that is accused of two rapes. It is beyond fanciful — and just a means to buy time.”
Meanwhile Mr Assange is beyond reach of the police unless invited into the embassy by its officials.
The Ecuadorian authorities could ask the Government to allow Mr Assange to leave and go to Ecuador, Ms Niblock added, but that was unlikely to be successful.
“The UK Government would then be in a very difficult position because it is obliged to send him to Sweden to answer for criminal offences.”
She added: “I think this move of his is really a sign of desperation because he must have been advised of all these difficulties. But what other option does he have?”
She rejected as unconvincing Mr Assange’s argument that if extradited to Sweden he would then be sought by the American prosecuting authorities.
“If the Americans wanted him they have not made an extradition request to the UK. I can’t think that it is easier to extradite someone from Sweden than Britain.”
She said that although Mr Assange had breached his bail conditions, his £250,000 surety would only be lost at the point he failed to surrender.
Two recent similar cases involved refugees from China: in February a police chief entered the US compound but was persuaded to leave after 24 hours. In a second case, the Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest in his native village and took refuge in the US Embassy in Beijing.
But in neither case was the person a fugitive from justice who was the subject of an extradition request or international obligations.
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