When did Assange enter the embassy?
He entered the embassy on June 19, 2012 and applied for political asylum, which was formally granted two months later.
Why is Assange still in the embassy?
The UK has encircled the embassy with police since he entered it and refuses to let him take up his asylum in Ecuador. The United States refuses to drop its attempts to pursue a national security case against Mr. Assange over WikiLeaks publications on Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Guantanamo bay and the US State Department. Sweden refuses to either drop its "preliminary investigation" or charge Mr. Assange with a crime. The UK states that it has spent more than $10m on the encirclement so far (see http://govcost.co.uk/) but refuses to disclose the breakdown of the cost.
What does the law say?
International law says that a sovereign country recognises that Julian Assange needs protection from political persecution on humanitarian grounds. Julian Assange has a right to meaningfully exercise that protection through passage to Ecuador. Ecuador invoked a number of applicable conventions, including the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. The United Kingdom and Sweden are also parties to the 1951 Convention and are obligated to recognise the asylum decision of Ecuador. While both states have been careful to avoid saying that they do not recognise the asylum, their actions can only be interpreted as a wilful violation of Mr. Assange’s right to ’seek, receive and enjoy’ his asylum. In international law, the obligation to protect persons from persecution under the 1951 Refugee Convention is superior to extradition agreements between states.
Why do the UK and Sweden disobey international law?
There is a conflict between the United Kingdom’s obligations to the 1951 UN refugee convention and its obligations under the European Arrest Warrant system. It is established law that these conflicts are to be resolved in favour of the higher obligation which is to the 1951 convention. The United Kingdom says it has a treaty obligation to extradite Assange to Sweden even though he has not been charged with an offense.
Rather than following international law, the United Kingdom has chosen to interpret the conflict in favor of its geopolitical alliances. The United Kingdom has a history of breaking international law in this manner, for example, in its invasion of Iraq, its cooperation with US rendition operations, and its facilitation of global mass spying via its intelligence service GCHQ. Sweden is also a party to these last two violations.
Why was he given asylum?
Assange's asylum claim was upheld on two points.
Firstly, that there was a reasonable fear of persecution by the United States as a result of his publishing work, due to the ongoing US Department of Justice probe and political calls for his assassination.
Secondly, that neither the US, UK, Sweden or his home country, Australia, were willing or able to protect him. Diplomatic conditions are often applied to extraditions, so Ecuador asked the UK to veto an onwards US extradition; the UK refused. Ecuador asked Sweden to veto an onwards US extradition or come to the embassy to interview Mr. Assange. Sweden refused both of these requests. Ecuador granted Mr. Assange asylum after these refusals. Ecuador now has obligations under international law to protect Mr. Assange; the asylum cannot be revoked.
What is the status of the US investigation against Assange?
The US Department of Justice confirmed in its April 2014 court filings that the national security criminal investigation and "pending prosecution" proceeds. The FBI is leading the investigation. A dozen other agencies have been involved. See here.
What is the status of the Swedish investigation against Mr. Assange?
Formally, it is at the stage of "preliminary investigation." Mr. Assange has not been charged. The investigation was previously canceled with the explanation that there were no grounds to accuse Mr. Assange. The prosecutor has yet to decide whether the investigation should turn into a formal investigation or not.
Why is the US investigation taking so long?
The Wikileaks investigation is classed as a national security case. Multi-year investigations are common in national security cases, but the US government has also intimated that it would wait until Mr. Assange was in Sweden before proceeding further. The investigation is politically and diplomatically charged as would be a future extradition. These factors are likely also weighing on US decision making as to timing. See here
Is Mr. Assange Swedish?
No, Mr. Assange is Australian and has no connection to Sweden and does not speak Swedish. He visited Sweden in August 2010 to give a lecture about the war in Afghanistan (in which Swedish forces are under US command).
What is the status of the United Kingdom’s actions against Mr. Assange?
Documents from Edward Snowden reveal that UK intelligence agency GCHQ was spying on WikiLeaks in 2012. The UK government admits to spending more than $10m on the ongoing embassy police encirclement against Mr. Assange, a figure increasing about $15k a day. It has refused to release figures for other actions against Mr. Assange. The encirclement expenditure has been a source of cross-party controversy in the United Kingdom, with the cost being equal 24,828 hospital beds or the training of 285 police. The UK government refuses to release most of its materials on Mr. Assange saying that to do so would compromise the United Kingdom’s international relationships and national security. But several prominent figures have spoken out about the situation.
It’s absolutely ridiculous, that money should be spent on frontline policing. It’s completely wasted.
It’s absolute madness... either somebody else has to pay - that is, the Swedish authorities - or we just have to back off and stop guarding the embassy. It is ludicrous.
It is unfair for taxpayers to continue to fund this farce. The time has come for the Met to review its strategy on Assange, and withdraw the officers currently guarding the Ecuadorian embassy.