Quote of the day

As Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian points out:

Readers of the American and British press over the past month have been inundated with righteous condemnations of Ecuador‘s poor record on press freedoms. Is this because western media outlets have suddenly developed a new-found devotion to defending civil liberties in Latin America? Please. To pose the question is to mock it.

It’s because feigning concern for these oppressive measures is a convenient instrument for demeaning and punishing Ecuador for the supreme crime of defying the US and its western allies. The government of President Rafael Correa granted asylum to western establishmentarians’ most despised figure, Julian Assange, and Correa’s government then loudly condemned Britain’s implied threats to invade its embassy. Ecuador must therefore be publicly flogged for its impertinence, and its press freedom record is a readily available whip. As a fun bonus, denunciations of Correa’s media oppression is a cheap and easy way to deride Assange’s supposed hypocrisy.

(Apparently, activists should only seek asylum from countries with pristine human rights records, whichever countries those might be: a newly concocted standard that was conspicuously missing during the saga of blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng at the US embassy; I don’t recall any western media outlets accusing Guangcheng of hypocrisy for seeking refuge from a country that indefinitely imprisons people with no charges, attacked Iraq, assassinates its own citizens with no due process on the secret orders of the president, bombs funerals and rescuers in Pakistan, uses extreme force and mass arrests to try to obliterate the peaceful Occupy protest movement, wages an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, prosecutes its Muslim citizens for posting YouTube videos critical of US foreign policy, embraces and arms the world’s most oppressive regimes, and imprisoned Muslim journalists for years at Guantánamo and elsewhere with no charges of any kind.)

But this behavior illustrates how purported human rights concerns are cynically exploited as a weapon by western governments and, more inexcusably, by their nationalistic, self-righteous media enablers.

Death to the Great Satan — Ecuador

Juan Cole recently addressed Britain’s threats to Ecuadorian sovereignty. He rightly informed us that:

The British government’s menacing of the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Thursday morning, with its threat that its police might well come on to the embassy grounds to arrest wikileaks leader and fugitive Julian Assange, resembles nothing so much as the Iranian regime’s cavalier attitude to the supposed inviolability of embassies. To be sure, Assange does not himself have diplomatic immunity. But the ground on which the Ecuadorian embassy sits is considered in international law to be Ecuadorian territory, and breaching it is tantamount to an invasion.

The British and American governments ought to consider this apparent and real equivalence a colossal embarrassment for their countries. Both, after all, were deeply implicated in the path which concluded with the Iranian Revolution. That Revolution produced an embassy invasion and hostage crisis which cohered into the stake that finished off the decrepit Carter presidency. Despite many events like this, both countries do believe themselves to be the apex of civilized society. Both, however, are or were empires, and therefore have grown accustomed to covering for their many crimes with choice rhetoric. Empires mostly sit somewhere beyond embarrassment. That is one consequence of the enormous power. They suffer embarrassment only when their powers fail to support their arrogance, when the Lilliputians of the world smite them and when they fail to respect the limits which constrain them. Thus America’s embarrassment in this matter: Assange cannot fail to pay for what he did to Superpower. He must be punished just as Bradley Manning had been punished (tortured). Until the revenge is complete, Assange will be an embarrassment for Uncle Sam.

“Assange’s fear of ending up in the clutches of the US is plainly rational and well-grounded,” as Glenn Greenwald pointed out not long ago. His quest for asylum just.

Update

Chris Floyd concurred with the above and has written thusly:

It is apparent that the nation of Ecuador will now be in the frame for what American foreign policy elites like to call, in their dainty and delicate language, “the path of action.” Ecuador granted political asylum to Julian Assange on Thursday for one reason only: the very real possibility that he would be “rendered” to the United States for condign punishment, including the possibility of execution.

None of the freedom-loving democracies involved in the negotiations over his fate — Britain, Sweden, and the United States — could guarantee that this would not happen … even though Assange has not been charged with any crime under U.S. law. [And even though the sexual misconduct allegations he faces in Sweden would not be crimes under U.S. or UK law.] Under these circumstances — and after a sudden, blustering threat from Britain to violate the Ecuadorean embassy and seize Assange anyway — the government of Ecuador felt it had no choice but to grant his asylum request.

Of course, great harm has been done to the pride of the puffed–up poltroons who strut and preen atop the imperial battlements, thinking themselves the lords of all the earth and the apple of every little peon’s eye. Their crimes and lies and third-rate minds were exposed — in their own words — by Wikileaks: and it is for this that Assange must pay. (And be made an example of to all those who might do likewise). Our imperial elites (and their innumerable little yapping media sycophants on both sides of the political fence) simply cannot bear to have American power and domination resisted in any way, at any time, for any reason, anywhere, by anyone. It offends their imperial dignity. It undermines their extremely fragile, frightened, frantic egos, which can only be held together by melding themselves to an image of monstrous, implacable, unstoppable power.

Ecuador granted Asylum to Julian Assange

The New York Times reported that

The move leaves Mr. Assange with protection from arrest only on Ecuadorian territory, meaning he could only leave the embassy for Ecuador with British cooperation.

The decision also adds to sharp strains between Ecuador and Britain. Just before the announcement by Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño at a news conference in Quito, President Rafael Correa said: “No one is going to terrorize us!” The night before, Mr. Patiño said that the British authorities had threatened to force their way into the embassy, to which he responded: “We are not a British colony.”

Reading from a government communiqué, Mr. Patiño said: “The government of Ecuador, faithful to its tradition of protecting those who seek refuge in its territory or in its diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to Julian Assange.”

What makes this move especially significant is Patiño’s claim that “…his government had made its decision after the authorities in Britain, Sweden and the United States refused to give guarantees that, if Mr. Assange were extradited to Sweden, he would not then be sent on to the United States to face other charges.” What does this mean? I would say that by its actions and statements it is now clear that Ecuador doubts the capacity and willingness of the United States to act with legal integrity with respect to Assange. Ecuador’s actions ought to cause sensible Americans to hang their heads in shame. Naturally, the blockheads in the United States will find Ecuador’s actions an affront to Superpower.

Of course, Sweden and Great Brittan, Superpower’s attack poodles, judged Ecuador’s decision unacceptable.

Sweden and Britain prepare for their contest with Ecuador

WikiLeaks responds to Britain’s threats

The web version can be read here.

Thursday 16th August, 3:00am UTC

In a communication this morning to the government of Ecuador, the UK threatened to forcefully enter the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrest Julian Assange.

The UK claims the power to do so under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987.

This claim is without basis.

By midnight, two hours prior to the time of this announcement, the embassy had been surrounded by police, in a menacing show of force.

Any transgression against the sanctity of the embassy is a unilateral and shameful act, and a violation of the Vienna Convention, which protects embassies worldwide.

This threat is designed to preempt Ecuador’s imminent decision on whether it will grant Julian Assange political asylum, and to bully Ecuador into a decision that is agreeable to the United Kingdom and its allies.

WikiLeaks condemns in the strongest possible terms the UK’s resort to intimidation.

A threat of this nature is a hostile and extreme act, which is not proportionate to the circumstances, and an unprecedented assault on the rights of asylum seekers worldwide.

We draw attention to the fact that the United Nations General Assembly has unanimously declared in Resolution 2312 (1967) that

“the grant of asylum. . . is a peaceful and humanitarian act and that, as such, it cannot be regarded as unfriendly by any other State.”

Pursuant to this resolution, a decision to grant asylum cannot be construed by another State as an unfriendly act. Neither can there be diplomatic consequences for granting asylum.

We remind the public that these extraordinary actions are being taken to detain a man who has not been charged with any crime in any country.

WikiLeaks joins the Government of Ecuador in urging the UK to resolve this situation according to peaceful norms of conduct.

We further urge the UK government to show restraint, and to consider the dire ramifications of any violation of the elementary norms of international law.

We ask that the UK respect Ecuador’s sovereign right to deliver a decision of its own making on Julian Assange’s asylum bid.

Noting that Ecuador has called for emergency summits of OAS and UNASUR in response to this development, WikiLeaks asks those bodies to support Ecuador’s rights in this matter, and to oppose any attempts to coerce a decision.

We note with interest that this development coincides with the UK Secretary of State William Hague’s assumption of executive responsibilities during the vacation of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

Mr Hague’s department, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has overseen the negotiations to date with Ecuador in the matter of Mr Assange’s asylum bid.

If Mr Hague has, as would be expected, approved this decision, WikiLeaks calls for his immediate resignation.

Australian Documentary on Julian Assange’s situation:

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/07/19/3549280.htm

Friends of WikiLeaks Support Network: https://wlfriends.org

Justice for Assange: http://justice4assange.com

British goons threaten Ecuadorian sovereignty

Earlier today FireDogLake‘s Kevin Gosztola reported that:

…the Ecuador foreign minister made a “severe allegation” today during a press conference against the United Kingdom and claimed they had received a “threat” to storm the Ecuador embassy in the UK to force the country to hand over WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, who has applied for political asylum in Ecuador.

According to BBC News, Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino declared, “We’re not a British colony. UK threat to storm embassy would be hostile and force us to respond.” He added any “attack” would be a violation of the Vienna Convention, the United Nations Charter and other various principles enshrined in international law.

It is now clear that Britain would rather appease the United States by committing an act of war against the people of Ecuador than it would respect international law governing these matters. To threaten aggression entails committing an act of aggression. Britain has thus promised to commit the supreme international crime, a crime which it has committed before. Julian Assange, on the other hand, may have committed the crimes of which he allegedly committed, just as Sweden has claimed. (Assange has not yet been charged.) But the actual ‘crimes’ for which Assange will be extradited and which might lure Britain to commit an act of aggression against Ecuador are not sexual assaults that may have occurred in Sweden. Moreover, let us remember that these crimes are very common and the world legal system easily suffers their commission every single day. Assange’s crimes are far more rare and serious than those for which Sweden wants him to return to that country. Assange and WikiLeaks bloodied Superpower’s nose by exposing its crimes, and acts such as this just cannot be tolerated.

I believe it is right to suspect the motivations of Sweden and Britain in this matter. As we know, they have made allies of themselves to a criminal regime, the United States of America. Their hands are not clean because of this. Uncle Sam’s hands are so blood stained that they will never be clean of the letting which stained them.