'You want to claim asylum? Well, as you can imagine we're a bit busy here at the moment...'

How easy is it to sign yourself over to Ecaudor? Kevin Rawlinson finds out

Kevin Rawlinson
Thursday 21 June 2012 12:10

"We're having a little situation here, could you leave your number and we'll call you back?" was the somewhat understated response from the Ecuadorean embassy yesterday when The Independent enquired about the possibility of claiming asylum.

The "situation" was the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the tonne of legal and political bricks his plea for protection has sent crashing down on the small embassy, which sits behind Harrods in west London. Dealing with the delicate situation apparently, and perhaps understandably, means the staff did not have the time to look at any other claims yesterday.

Reporters and photographers from media outlets across the world were outside the red-brick building as Mr Assange was kept under Ecuadorean government protection while his claim was being considered.

Gavin MacFadyen, a friend of Mr Assange, said the WikiLeaks founder was staying in a small, simple room with a bed and a TV. "It is not luxury but I think we have all had worse," he said.

Mr MacFadyen added: "He is fine; he is in very good humour and grateful for the hospitality of the embassy. He is meeting with the lawyers now to discuss all of it. It's a very fluid situation; he is in good humour and the generosity of the embassy is impressive and moving." Mr Assange walked into the embassy on Tuesday and asked for asylum and protection, beginning a process which was then passed to Quito for consideration. It will eventually come back to this bit of west London but its ramifications will be international.

Only a security guard was answering calls at the front door of the embassy yesterday. Initially, there was trouble finding anyone to speak to over the phone about asylum applications.

Eventually, The Independent was told that staff were not able to take any more calls while they dealt with the current request. The process of claiming asylum from Britain to another country is relatively unusual, experts said. More common is foreign nationals seeking leave to stay in Britain.

The relatively small backlog of cases could mean Mr Assange's claim is considered quickly, although anyone else's, it appears, will have to wait a little longer.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in