Is there any way an embassy can move a sanctuary seeker to its country?

OK, clearly Ecuador did not want to take Assange to its own country but suppose that had been their wish. Would the ambassador’s car be considered Ecuadorian territory? Or suppose they had a large bag, put Assange into it and secured it with diplomatic seals? Would the British police have been within their rights to open it? I’m interested to know whether there’s any way at all that somebody can be safely transferred from an embassy to its homeland.

Looks better than my first thought, a really big diplomatic pouch, with holes.

Interesting. From the page:

“The increased availability of long-range helicopters such as the MH-53 Pave Low, HH-60 Pave Hawk and MH-47 Chinook, and the MV-22 Osprey and CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, all with aerial refueling capability, caused this system to be used less often. In September 1996, the Air Force Special Operations Command ceased maintaining the capability to deploy this system.”

No, only the embassy itself is considered the territory of the ambassador’s home nation. Though he himself would be immune to arrest, the car could be stopped and Assange removed and arrested because he himself has no diplomatic immunity. There would be protests, of course.

Previous thread, started right after Assange sought asylum. There was a lot of discussion about international law and such. If both countries are members of the Organization of American States, the answer would be “Yes” - the treaty specifically addresses transferring an asylum seeker from the “territorial State” (where he actually is) to the State granting asylum. The territorial State is actually required to allow the asylum seeker to be transferred.

The UK is obviously not a member of the OAS, but arguments were raised that the OAS treaties have pretty much become International Law.

This again is a pervasive misperception. Diplomatic facilities are not in any way the territory of any other nation but the host nation. It is just that facilities are protected by law and treaty from entry, search, arrest, etc.

In cases in which the people in question is not personally seeked by the authorities, but just (“just”) part of a persecuted group, embassies and consulates have been known to help them travel by providing passports. It was done multiple times during WWII, for example.

I have the very, very rare privilege of correcting Nava’s awesome English: “sought” instead of “seeked.”

A diplomatic bag is immune from search or seizure and a courier escorting a diplomatic bag is immune to search or arrest. See Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 (pdf link)

If the state granting asylum to someone in its embassy designates that person as a courier of its diplomatic bag then he/she would be immune from arrest. Of course if the hosting nation disregards diplomatic norms and arrests him/her anyway then all bets are off.

So if the Ecuadorian embassy has a helipad on the roof … problem solved!

I’m not sure what all the rules are for landing in or flying over a foreign country, but I have some vague recollection that they’re more strict for the former than the latter, which is why I suggested the skyhook gimmick in the first place.

A 2015 article discusses a leaked Ecuadorian memo.

And further says:

It goes through the various options. Assange was hoped up in another’s building than where the heliport is located.

Another article says that the UK refused to accept a possible diplomatic status so he would not have diplomatic immunity.

ISTM that once a country has accepted diplomatic status for an individual they can’t revoke the diplomatic immunity unilaterally but apparently they aren’t required to accept anyone.

Countries can revoke the diplomatic status they have granted to an individual. It’s called being declared persona non grata, or being PNGed. That’s how countries kick out spies working under diplomatic cover, or diplomats who just become unwelcome for whatever reason.

Damnit! And I can’t even blame lack of coffee, I don’t drink coffee!


Yes, I know. However, it doesn’t seem like they can revoke the diplomatic immunity and arrest them.

And I suppose revoking it and shooting him is right out?

I think you are missing the most obvious solution - tried and tested in real life, and nothing to do with that Bond movie guff.

Since Julian Assange got all manner of celebrity visitors the Ecuadorian government should have pretended they were making a film and used that as cover to smuggle him out in disguise, a la the movie Argo.

He could easily be dressed up as an authentic Ecuadorian:

hiding his distinctive white hair

supporting his team

celebrating New Year

The Ecuadorians have been increasingly impatient with Assange, and from looking at the videos and reports of his unpleasant behaviour in their embassy, it may be that his mental health has deteriorated in the seven years that he has been an unwanted lodger.

The truth may be difficult to come by - maybe someone will leak some emails so that we can see what truly has been going on.

I was on assignment to the U.S. embassy in Vienna when Nadia Comăneci defected in 1989. She had made the overland trip from Bucharest mainly by foot and presented herself to the embassy in Vienna seeking asylum. She was then assisted by embassy personnel in getting to America.