A diplomatic stalemate: The UK and Ecuador clash over Julian Assange

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Police officers outside the Embassy of Ecuador in Knightsbridge, central London
Police officers outside the Embassy of Ecuador in Knightsbridge, central London Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

It is remarkable how low relations now are, how much strain there is between the UK and Ecuador not on an issue of national security but over the fate of a man who is actually facing charges in neither country.

He is facing allegations in Sweden and I think most people would agree that Sweden is not a country known for its abuse of human rights.

But certainly Mr Assange believes in Sweden he will be one step closer to extradition to the United States and today Ecuador decided it agreed with him on that.

Julian Assange has been granted political asylum by Ecuador.
Julian Assange has been granted political asylum by Ecuador. Credit: Press Association

It seems to me that there is going to be a protracted standoff.

A lawyer coming out of the embassy earlier said they're prepared for the long-term.

Britain is offering neither safe passage nor actually the long-term diplomatic immunity of the embassy.

If the government says Ecuador's embassy is no longer a diplomatic mission and the police are sent in. That will be unprecedented and not without consequence.

For example, what would Britain think if its embassy in Tehran or in Moscow was searched by local police.

The Foreign Secretary was quite clear today whatever they decide to do, he will act within international law.

But this will only end in one of two ways at the moment.

Either Julian Assange will come out of the front door to be arrested or police will go in the other side to make the arrest.