Practicality/legality of a Julian Assange helicopter extraction.

Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain. Police have surrounded the embassy to prevent Assange from escaping to Ecuador.

Would it be possible to extract him by helicopter and fly him to a boat out to sea? Apart from that I can’t think what good asylum will do if he is forced to live at the embassy for the remainder of his life.

Clarifiction: I’m not talking about Ecuador smuggling him out, I don’t think that option is on the table. I mean a 3rd party performing it with a SPIE rig or a quick touchdown-takeoff. Rooftop landing?

Considering the Brits aren’t going to allow him to be taken out in ground vehicle. I find it highly unlikely they’d give clearance to a helicopter.

I raised that question here on 06/20/2012. The question in that thread was whether Ecuador could smuggle him out.

Two responses suggested it’s not going to happen:

Really Not All That Bright suggested (Post #71)) that Ecuador could not do it because the helicopter would not have diplomatic immunity.

SciFiSam suggested (Post #72) that neither Ecuador nor anyone else could get him out by helicopter because the embassy building has no flat roof area nor any large garden area where a helicopter could land.

(ETA: But note the conflict of that comment with IceQube’s cite just above, suggesting that a helicopter could land there. So can the embassy building have a helicopter or not?)

I won’t speculate on the helicopter thing, but the nationalist Hungarian Roman Catholic Cardinal Josef Mindszenty was forced to take asylum in the U.S. Embassy for 15 years and became a hero of the European anti-Communist movement.

Of course, Mindszenty already had a 30-year history of defiance against and persecution by the Communists, Nazis and Fascists and was convicted of treason rather than sexual assault, so the parallels aren’t exact.

Why can’t they put him in a diplomatic pouch and carry him out to a waiting car and jet? Is there a rule against people in diplomatic pouches? Two burly Ecuadorian policemen could handle the job nicely.

I just looked at the building on Google Earth (3 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, London) and it doesn’t look particularly accommodating for a helicopter.

There’s no legal way a helicopter could simply cruise on over through controlled airspace to land in a highly populated area of London without the consent of relevant British authorities.


Christ on a crutch, he is blatantly avoiding jail time because none of the charges against him carry any sort of execution threat. The jackass should suck it up and take the freaking jail time.

I could see getting sanctuary at some embassy because you are afraid for your life as whatever sentance you might get could be the death penalty - there are plenty of countries that refuse extradition if a death sentance is possible, but this is fucking stupid. He just doesn’t want to go to jail.

He’s not even wanted for jail time, he’s wanted for questioning.

He’s doing everything he can to avoid a situation that might land him in US custody. We do execute in the US.

If he really wanted to be the martyr he makes himself out to be he’d take the risk and you know possibly become a martyr. Instead he’s just a drama queen.

Has he even been charged? Last I heard, he has not been charged, and is wanted in Sweden for questioning. Why they can’t do that over the phone is beyond me.

I think it is pretty clear from the level of attention he is getting that he won’t obtain justice anywhere he goes. With a high probability of being executed, somewhere, for treason and/or espionage, I’d try and stay out of the clutches of the governments of the world too.

What if the helicopter dropped a rope ladder down to the embassy, while continuing to hover overhead?

Flying low in a built up area is illegal in the USA and Canada, and also in Britain I presume. If you were a helicopter pilot and were asked to do something illegal, would you? Do you want to put your career and future on the line to help a fugitive who is wanted (despite denial) for the executable offense of espionage by the only superpower in the world? Someone where the British government has theatened to break centuries of established international law and practice to apprehend? Do you think you would end up with a slap on the wrist from British courts for doing this?

Then what? You get the guy on a small jet. Where does it refill on the way to Ecuador? Certainly not JFK or Bermuda. Is Portugal or Brazil willing to do a deal with the US authorities? How about those small, easily threatened little carribean islands?

The British air traffic authorities must give clearance for a helicopter to operate in the areas that include Central London, in a box that extends from the surface to 1,400 feet. It isn’t going to happen.

Back to the Brits having to authorize the helicopter in the first place.

Most countries have policies concerning unauthorized aircraft. In the US that includes shooting them down if necessary.

If a helicopter happened to defy those rules and swooped in over the embassy and somehow managed to extricate Mr Assange via a rope ladder…what would the Brits do about it? Surely they wouldn’t attempt to shoot it down with warplanes or missiles over heavily populated areas?

underground. summon the ninja turtles.

So it’s illegal as far as clearance for the aircraft, and impractical because there’s nowhere to land.

That leaves us with some kind of rope extraction, done by a pilot who felt that the effort was worth his time and the risk to his own life/career.

The full address is:

Flat 3B, 3 Hans Crescent

from the embassy website

The “B” implies that the embassy occupies one of the floors, not the entirety of number 3. Which floor depends on how they are labelling them. The usual way in the UK would be for the ground floor to be plain “3”, then the next floor up “3A” etc. Now, it looks like this building has a mews level, so who knows, it may just be the one floor above ground level, rather than the second.

In any case, the front door that the police have been moving through is the door into the building that contains the embassy, not the door to the embassy itself. Any arrest, should Assange choose (heh) to leave, will surely take place inside the building, at the door of Flat 3B, and not on the street.

I think they better start digging a tunnel, honestly. There’s more of a chance of that working than a helicopter.