Former British ambassador Craig Murray has disputed the British Foreign Office’s dismissal of a request from the Ecuadorian government to grant Julian Assange diplomatic status.
The Ecuadorian government "has every right to appoint Assange, now an Ecuadorian citizen, as an Ecuadorian diplomat if it so chooses. Ecuador cannot tell the UK who may or may not be a British diplomat, and the converse applies," Murray wrote on his website.
The diplomat, however, underscored that he has no knowledge that Ecuador ever notified Assange as a member of the diplomatic staff of its mission.
In order to back up his assumption, Murray referred to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a treaty outlining a framework for diplomatic relations between countries, including the basis for diplomatic immunity.
"Here is the key point. A member of staff below head of mission can already have entered the country before appointment, and their diplomatic immunity starts from the moment their appointment is notified, and NOT from the moment it is accepted," he wrote, citing the document.
The diplomat also pointed out that if Ecuador notified the British government of Assange as a member of diplomatic staff the UK could have refused it only by declaring Assange persona non grata.
The Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday granting naturalization to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange upon his request issued in September.The ministry also said that Assange would not leave the embassy in London as there are no security guaranties. Ecuador also requested diplomatic status for Assange, but the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said that Britain had dismissed the request.
Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in the British capital since being given political asylum in 2012. In 2010, Swedish authorities began an investigation into rape allegations against the whistleblower, who resisted being questioned in Sweden for fear that he might be extradited to the United States over WikiLeaks’ exposure of classified documents.