Ecuador has granted Julian Assange political asylum, which means eyes turn back from Quito to the embassy in Knightsbridge, where Assange has been holed up since 19 June.
Protesters have been outside the building since news broke this morning of a ‘threat’ by the UK Foreign Office to revoke the diplomatic status of the embassy to arrest Assange, wanted in Sweden to answer charges of rape and sexual molestation. Three people have been arrested, and from quotes gathered by the Evening Standard it seems protesters are out there to protect Assange and the embassy from a potential police storming. Which is quite unnecessary as lawyer David Allen Green explains.
So what now? Assange can’t leave the embassy without being immediately arrested for breaking bail conditions; the UK is bound under international law to extradite Assange to Sweden; and Assange and his supporters continue to insist the whole thing’s a political put-up job to get him somewhere he can easily be extradited to the US (though we’re surprised he decided to come to the UK; our extradition treaty with the US is heavily one-sided). Expect a long, boring stand-off by bored police officers for some time to come.
Oh, and if you’re the taxi driver who thought it’d be hilarious to wait outside the embassy with a Julian Assange sign, we’d like you to stop and think about what you’ve done.