WASHINGTON — The United States said Friday that it did not believe in “diplomatic asylum” after Ecuador offered to let WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stay indefinitely in its embassy in London.
Ecuador has turned to the Organization of American States, which met Thursday and Friday in Washington, after deciding to offer asylum to the Internet activist who is wanted in Sweden on sexual assault allegations.
Under a 1954 agreement, the Organization of American States agreed to allow asylum in diplomatic missions for “persons being sought for political reasons,” although not individuals indicted for “common offenses.”
“The United States is not a party to the 1954 OAS Convention on Diplomatic Asylum and does not recognize the concept of diplomatic asylum as a matter of international law,” the State Department said in a statement.
“We believe this is a bilateral issue between Ecuador and the United Kingdom and that the OAS has no role to play in this matter,” it said.
Supporters of Assange believe that the 41-year-old Australian is at risk of extradition to the United States after angering authorities by publishing a trove of sensitive diplomatic cables.
The United States has denied pressuring Britain to arrest Assange, who has been holed up in Ecuador’s embassy since June. Washington has not commented on potential legal actions but said it has no intention of “persecuting” Assange.
While the United States did not sign or ratify the 1954 convention on diplomatic asylum, it has often used the safety of its embassies to protect activists in non-democratic nations.
In May, Chinese human rights campaigner Chen Guangcheng fled to the US embassy in Beijing after evading house arrest and beatings. China eventually allowed Chen to leave for the United States to study.
Fang Lizhi, a key figure in the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, lived in the US embassy in Beijing with his wife for more than one year before he was allowed to go into exile in the United States in a deal brokered with Japan.
Photo of Ecuadorian embassy in London where Julian Assange has taken refuge via AFP/Carl Court
In a secluded region in Russia’s Arctic they are rejecting Putin in rare protest
Lyudmila Laptander, an activist advocating autonomy for her mineral-rich Nenets region in the Russian Arctic, worries authorities are planning to sacrifice its traditions for the promise of economic enrichment.
"If Nenets is merged with another region, I worry that no one will look after our language or our traditions, and that our small villages in the tundra will be forgotten," said Laptander, 61, a member of the Yasavey cultural group.
The autonomous region on the edge of the Arctic Ocean was gripped by protests in May against the government's plans to integrate it with neighbouring Arkhangelsk.
People are paying to hire this donkey to crash their Zoom meetings
The coronavirus pandemic has led millions of people to embrace meetings via Zoom, but admittedly, those can be as tedious as in-person conferences.
So one animal sanctuary in Canada, in dire need of cash after being forced to close to visitors, found a way to solve both problems.
Meet Buckwheat, a donkey at the Farmhouse Garden Animal Home, who is ready to inject some fun into your humdrum work-from-home office day -- for a price.
"Hello. We are crashing your meeting, we are crashing your meeting -- this is Buckwheat," says sanctuary volunteer Tim Fors, introducing the gray and white animal on a Zoom call.
Republican senators are suddenly trying to social distance — from Trump
There’s something interesting in today’s news:
A number of Republican Senators have said they are skipping the Republican National Convention this year. The convention was originally scheduled in Charlotte, North Carolina, but at Trump’s insistence was relocated to Jacksonville, Florida, last month. The stated reason was that Democratic North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper would not commit to permitting a full convention out of concerns about the spread of coronavirus, but the abrupt switch to Florida, less than 80 days before the convention, still seems odd to me. Regardless, the switch has created a new problem: Florida is in the midst of a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases, setting a record for new cases in a single day during the weekend —11,458—and running low of ICU beds.